Lawmakers Want More C-17s

The House Appropriations Committee has included funds for an additional eight C-17 airlifters in its version of the Fiscal 2009 defense supplemental bill now before Congress, and a bipartisan group of 19 Senators have petitioned Senate appropriators to up the number to 15. The lawmakers oppose Pentagon plans to limit production to just 205 aircraft. Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) calls ending the C-17 line “a dangerous gamble,” in a May 12 joint statement with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who states that Congressional support for additional C-17s “remains high.” Bond, Boxer, and 17 colleagues note in their May 12 letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Appropriation Committee that the strategic airlifter “now also provides tactical airlift to less than ideal runways under tremendous stress and weight loads,” making it an “ideal platform” for irregular warfare operations. That, they write, makes it “highly compatible” in DOD efforts to rebalance the defense budget to meet IW demands. They also point out that the Pentagon has yet to complete several mobility studies that would “give policy-makers important insight into future strategic and tactical airlift needs.” Senate defense authorizers also have criticized the Pentagon’s C-17 plan.