End of the Line for C-17 Military Aircraft

Boeing Long Beach plant to shut down as last Globemaster III delivered.

A C-17 Globemaster III taking flight.

A C-17 Globemaster III taking flight.

The recent departure of the 279th C-17 Globemaster III manufactured in Boeing’s Long Beach, California production facility signaled the end of the C-17 series and the closure of the plant.

Accompanied by the hashtag #C17FlyBye, the aircraft flew over a modest crowd before heading to San Antonio, Texas. It will be stored there until its delivery to the Qatar Emiri Air Force in early 2016.

“This is truly the end of an era. It’s a sad day, but one that all of the Boeing employees and suppliers who have worked over the years building this great aircraft can be proud of,” said Nan Bouchard, vice president of Boeing and C-17 program manager.

C-17 Globemaster III Facts

The C-17 is 174 feet long with a wingspan of 170 feet. It’s powered by four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines based on the Pratt & Whitney PW2040 commercial engines used on the Boeing 757. Its cargo compartment is 88 feet long, 18 feet wide and 12 feet high—large enough to accommodate the M1 Abrams tank.

Interior of a C-17 cargo compartment.

Interior of a C-17 cargo compartment.

The first C-17 aircraft was completed at the Long Beach plant in 1991. Since then, a total of 279 have been manufactured, with the majority of them going to the United States Air Force.

Other countries utilizing C-17s include Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. NATO also maintains three C-17s as part of its Strategic Airlift Capability Program.

The C-17 fleet has accumulated a combined total of over three million flying hours.

The End of C-17 Production

The decision to end production as a result of insufficient orders was announced in 2013. Boeing began auctioning equipment from the C-17 plant in Long Beach earlier this year.

The company has stated that it will continue to provide support, maintenance and upgrades to the C-17 fleet under the C-17 Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program (GISP), a performance-based logistics (PBL) agreement.

The C-17 GISP is the result of a $2 billion contract between Boeing and the Department of Defense covering the fiscal years 2013 through 2017. The PBL agreement is based on an agreed-to level of system readiness rather than the traditional contract for spare parts and support services.

When the closure announcement came in 2013 there were approximately 2,200 employees working at the Long Beach plant. Now, there are fewer than 400.

For more information, follow the hashtag #C17FlyBye on Twitter.