Boeing C-17: Boeing delivers last C-17 to Air Force

Boeing C-17: Boeing has delivered the final C-17 produced for the US Air Force. At least 250 have been built, at a cost of about $311 million each.

Damian Dovarganes/AP
Boeing Co. delivers the last C-17 Globemaster III cargo jet for the US Air Force, in Long Beach, Calif., Sept. 12.

The Boeing Co. has delivered the final C-17 produced for the US Air Force, more than two decades after the mammoth and versatile transport plane was rolled out as the Cold War wound down.

Military officials took delivery of the C-17 Globemaster III — the 223rd sold to the Air Force — during a ceremony Thursday attended by hundreds of workers at Boeing's Long Beach, Calif., assembly plant.

"It was a long run with the US military, and it was a good run," said engineer Bob Grech, who joined the project 19 years ago.

The massive, four-engine C-17 made its first flight in 1991, and military deliveries began about two years later. The plane is used to airlift tanks, supplies and troops as well as perform medical evacuations. It quickly became a war and disaster workhorse, prized for its ability to operate from basic airstrips and cover intercontinental distances with a full load without refueling.

With a payload of 160,000 pounds, it is designed to airdrop 102 paratroopers and their equipment.

After the ceremony, the Air Force's final C-17 took off, en route to Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. — recreating the same flight the first production model took when it was delivered in July 1993. As the crowd on the ground cheered, the giant aircraft looped around and performed a low flyover before heading into the clouds.

Rachid Ali, a Boeing avionics inspector who has worked with C-17s for a dozen years, recounted the plane's service in Bosnia and Afghanistan. C-17s outfitted as mobile hospitals were regularly used to evacuate wounded military personnel during the Iraq War.

"It's an awesome airplane. Capability, reliability, it's above and beyond," Ali said. "The first 50 are still flying. After 25 years, you can refurbish them and they're as good as new. It's going to be in the air for years to come."

Design work on the plane began at the million-plus square-foot Long Beach facility in 1981, when it was a McDonnell Douglas facility. Boeing merged with McDonnell Douglas in the 1990s. At least 250 have been built, at a cost of about $311 million each when research, development and construction costs are included.

The Long Beach assembly line, which employees nearly 4,000 workers, still has pending orders in the foreign market. Boeing's overseas customers include the United Kingdom, Canada, India, Australia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and NATO.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.