Boeing today delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) its fourth C-17 Globemaster III during a ceremony at the company’s Long Beach, Calif., C-17 manufacturing facility.
The aircraft features the “Block 17” configuration the most modern variant of C-17s built by Boeing, with upgraded software and avionics. The RAAF C-17 also has unique markings that differentiate it from U.S. Air Force C-17s. A black stallion on its tail identifies the airplane as part of the RAAF’s No. 36 Squadron, an airlift unit based in Amberley, Queensland. A kangaroo on the aircraft’s fuselage is part of the RAAF roundel, a distinctive emblem painted on military aircraft to indicate its nation of origin.
The aircraft joins three others delivered to the RAAF since late-2006. With the delivery of this new airlifter, the worldwide C-17 fleet now includes 171 U.S. Air Force C-17s as well as four in the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) and two in the Canadian Forces. The RAF and the Canadian Forces each will receive two additional C-17s this year. The U.S. Air Force is on contract to receive 19 additional C-17s by mid-2009.
The C-17 is the world’s only tactical airlift aircraft with strategic capabilities. Capable of flying between continents and landing on short, austere runways, the C-17 is used worldwide for both military and humanitarian missions.
Today’s delivery leaves just 23 C-17s remaining on the production schedule. Without additional orders, the C-17 line will close in late 2009. Despite significant evidence of increasing airlift needs, the U.S. Air Force has not budgeted for additional C-17s the last two years, forcing congressional plus-ups to meet the needed requirement.
Photo Credit & Source: Boeing