[Update: Could Boeing extend program?]
Boeing has announced that production of the C-17 Globemaster III will end in 2015, and that it will close the Long Beach, California final assembly facility. This is the last aircraft being produced at the historic Douglas Aircraft facilities in Long Beach that were acquired after Boeing’s merger with McDonnell-Douglas in 1996. More than 250 C-17s, powered by the Pratt & Whitney 2040 also used on the Boeing 757, have been delivered.Dennis Muilenburg, President and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security said “ending C-17 production was a very difficult but necessary decision… Our customers around the world face very tough budget environments. While the desire for the C17’s capabilities is high, budgets cannot support additional purchases in the timing required to keep the line open.”
While Boeing has cited sequestration as an issue in closing the line, funding for additional C-17s has been controversial for some time, with the US congress twice providing additional orders beyond what the military had requested in budgets. But with first deliveries in 1991, the question now turns to what will replace it as older transports continue to age. The C-17 is also operated in Australia, Canada, India, NATO, Qatar, UAE and the UK in addition to the USAF.