The C-17 Globemaster III is the newest,
most flexible cargo aircraft to enter the airlift force.
The C-17 is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops
and all types of cargo to main operating bases or directly
to forward bases in the deployment area. The aircraft is
also capable of performing tactical airlift and airdrop
missions when required. The inherent flexibility and
performance of the C-17 force improve the ability of the
total airlift system to fulfill the worldwide air mobility
requirements of the United States.
The ultimate measure of airlift
effectiveness is the ability to rapidly project and
sustain an effective combat force close to a potential
battle area. Threats to U.S. interests have changed in
recent years, and the size and weight of U.S.-mechanized
firepower and equipment have grown in response to improved
capabilities of potential adversaries. This trend has
significantly increased air mobility requirements,
particularly in the area of large or heavy outsize cargo.
As a result, newer and more flexible airlift aircraft are
needed to meet potential armed contingencies, peacekeeping
or humanitarian missions worldwide. The C-17 is capable of
meeting today's demanding airlift missions.
Reliability and maintainability are two
outstanding benefits of the C-17 system. Current
operational requirements impose demanding reliability and
maintainability. These requirements include an aircraft
mission completion success probability rate of 92 percent,
only 20 aircraft maintenance man-hours per flying hour,
and full and partial mission availability rates of 74.7
and 82.5 percent, respectively. The Boeing warranty
assures these figures will be met.
The C-17 measures 174 feet long (53
meters) with a wingspan of 169 feet, 10 inches (51.75
meters). The aircraft is powered by four, fully
reversible, Federal Aviation Administration-certified
F117-PW-100 engines (the military designation for the
commercial Pratt & Whitney PW2040), currently used on the
Boeing 757. Each engine is rated at 40,440 pounds of
thrust. The thrust reversers direct the flow of air upward
and forward to avoid ingestion of dust and debris. Maximum
use has been made of off-the-shelf and commercial
equipment, including Air Force-standardized avionics.
The aircraft is operated by a crew of
three (pilot, copilot and loadmaster), reducing manpower
requirements, risk exposure and long-term operating costs.
Cargo is loaded onto the C-17 through a large aft door
that accommodates military vehicles and palletized cargo.
The C-17 can carry virtually all of the Army's
Maximum payload capacity of the C-17 is
170,900 pounds (77,519 kilograms), and its maximum gross
takeoff weight is 585,000 pounds (265,352 kilograms). With
a payload of 160,000 pounds (72,575 kilograms) and an
initial cruise altitude of 28,000 feet (8,534 meters), ,
the C-17 has an unrefueled range of approximately 2,400
nautical miles. Its cruise speed is approximately 450
knots (.74 Mach). The C-17 is designed to airdrop 102
paratroopers and equipment.
The design of the aircraft allows it to
operate through small, austere airfields. The C-17 can
take off and land on runways as short as 3,000 feet (914
meters) and only 90 feet wide (27.4 meters). Even on such
narrow runways, the C-17 can turn around using a
three-point star turn and its backing capability.
The C-17 made its maiden flight on Sept.
15, 1991, and the first production model was delivered to
Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., June 14, 1993. The first
squadron of C-17s, the 17th Airlift Squadron, was declared
operationally ready Jan. 17, 1995. The Air Force
originally programmed to buy a total of 120 C-17s, with
the last one being delivered in November 2004. The fiscal
2000 budget funded another 14 C-17s for special operations
duty. Basing of the original 120 C-17s will be at
Charleston AFB; McChord AFB, Wash. (first aircraft arrived
in July 1999); Altus AFB, Okla.; and at an Air National
Guard unit in Jackson, Miss. Basing of the additional 14
aircraft has not been determined.
The C-17 is operated by the Air Mobility
Command at the 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston AFB, S.C.;
the 62nd Airlift Wing, McChord AFB, Wash; and the 315th
Airlift Wing (Associate Reserve), Charleston AFB, S.C.
Cargo and troop transport
Prime Contractor: Boeing Company
Power Plant: Four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100
Thrust: 40,440 pounds, each engine
Wingspan: 169 feet 10 inches (to winglet tips)
Length: 174 feet (53 meters)
Height: 55 feet 1 inch (16.79 meters)
Cargo Compartment: length, 88 feet (26.82 meters);
width, 18 feet (5.48 meters); height, 12
feet 4 inches (3.76 meters)
Speed: 450 knots at 28,000 feet (8,534 meters)
Service Ceiling: 45,000 feet at cruising speed
Range: Global with in-flight refueling
Crew: Three (two pilots and one loadmaster)
Maximum Peacetime Takeoff Weight: 585,000 pounds
Load: 102 troops/paratroops; 36 litter and 54
ambulatory patients and attendants; 170,900 pounds (77,519
kilograms) of cargo (18 pallet positions)
Unit Cost: $236.7 million (FY98 constant dollars)
Date Deployed: June 1993
Inventory: Active duty, 58; Air National Guard, 6;
Air Force Reserve, 0