Gates Not Troubled by Potential Widebody Gap

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday he’s not concerned by a potential production gap in US military widebody aircraft once Boeing’s C-17 production line closes. “There is significant [commercial] wide-body aircraft production capability in the United States, and we have more than enough time to adjust it to a military production line if we need to,” he said Wednesday during a hearing with Senate defense appropriators. His was responding to questions from Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). Bond was concerned about the ramifications to the strategic airlift industrial base if C-17 production stopped. Murray asserted the US “would have absolutely no [domestic] wide-bodied military aircraft production left” if EADS North America wins the Air Force’s KC-X tanker contest and the C-17 line is shuttered. (EADS has committed to building its KC-X tankers in Mobile, Ala., if chosen over Boeing.)