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180 C-17s Enough, Air Force Says

December 14, 2005|From Bloomberg News

The Air Force doesn't want to expand its fleet of C-17 transport jets beyond the 180 it currently operates or has on order, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne said Tuesday.

The Air Force accepts the findings of a Defense Department review of military mobility that concluded the Air Force has adequate transport aircraft and the Navy has enough fast sealift vessels with the current planned inventory to deploy ground units in a timely manner, Wynne said.

"Right now, we accept the outcome of the study," Wynne said at a Pentagon briefing. "We are feeling not uncomfortable" with the current planned transport aircraft inventory of 500 C-130s, 180 C-17s and 112 C-5s.

Wynne's remarks are a setback for Chicago-based Boeing Co., which has lobbied to sell Congress as many as 40 more C-17s, nicknamed the Globemaster III. Boeing said its Long Beach assembly plant may close after 2008, when the last C-17 is delivered. The company delivered the 139th of the four-engine jet this week.

Lawmakers have pressed the Air Force to buy more C-17s.

Each C-17 costs $200 million. The plant where the C-17 Globemaster III is assembled employs about 6,500 workers.

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