C-17 Evolves from ‘A’ to ‘B’ to ‘FE’

Boeing has begun publicly discussing a lighter, more nimble version of today’s C-17A transport called the C-17FE. The “FE” stands for fuel efficient. Company officials say this version of the combat-proven airlifter would be able to operate off of 1,500-foot-long, semi- or unprepared landing strips while carrying two battle-ready Stryker armored vehicles or future manned ground vehicles. Among its features would be fuselage that is four feet narrower than the C-17A’s and the use of composite materials for reduced weight and drag. Boeing officials say the C-17FE would be “15 percent more fuel efficient” than the C-17A and would be able to perform “100 percent” of the missions envisioned for the US military’s joint future theater lift platform. The C-17FE apparently supersedes the C-17B concept that Boeing unveiled several years back as a future airlift option. Like C-17B, Boeing contends that the C-17FE could be had for billions less than a new airlifter design.