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McDonnell Gets C-17 Jet Pact Worth $2.4 Billion

November 25, 1986|RALPH VARTABEDIAN | Times Staff Writer

McDonnell Douglas was awarded a $2.4-billion Air Force contract Monday to continue development of the C-17, the cargo jet program that will create an additional 2,000 jobs next year at the Long Beach-based Douglas Aircraft unit.

The contract is part of a larger $3.39-billion award that was made in January, which officially put the C-17 program into full-scale development status. The C-17 is expected to make its first flight in 1990.

Douglas officials said Monday that they expect to have about 4,000 employees on the C-17 program by the end of this year and 6,000 by the end of next year. The work force would hit 9,000 by the end of 1988.

But the peak work force will reach only 10,000, a sharp reduction from the previously planned 13,000 that the company disclosed earlier this year. Employment requirements have been reduced largely because of a decision to increase the amount of structural airframe work to be done by subcontractors.

That move followed agitation by the Tennessee congressional delegation to open up work for Avco Aerostructures, an aerospace contractor near Nashville.

Douglas called for bids on wing components late last week and is expecting about eight bids, including proposals from Avco, Boeing and Rockwell International.

The C-17 program emerged in relatively good financial shape in the fiscal 1987 defense appropriation bill, despite sharp cutbacks in other programs. The Reagan Administration requested $829 million for C-17 research and preliminary production, and Congress appropriated $700 million.

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