Boeing has announced that it will end production of the C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter in 2015, leaving thirteen examples available for sale to future customers. If all thirteen unassigned aircraft are sold, additional production would only be entertained if financially viable.
Boeing on Wednesday said it would close the C-17 final assembly facility in Long Beach, California, when production of the final batch of 22 aircraft ceases. Company officials said it was a hard decision to shut down the production line despite strong international interest. “We haven’t received enough orders to justify production beyond 2015,” said Nan Bouchard, vice president and general manager of the C-17 programme.
Of the 22 final C-17s that will be produced, 13 are not allocated to customers while seven will go to fulfilling the Indian Air Force’s order for ten and two will go to an unnamed international customer, possibly Kuwait. “Based on conversations with customers and potential customers, we believe that the unallocated aircraft will fulfil near term needs,” Bouchard said.
“Ending C-17 production was a very difficult but necessary decision,” said Dennis Muilenburg, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “Our customers around the world face very tough budget environments. While the desire for the C-17’s capabilities is high, budgets cannot support additional purchases in the timing required to keep the production line open.
“What’s more, here in the United States the sequestration situation has created significant planning difficulties for our customers and the entire aerospace industry. Such uncertainty forces difficult decisions like this C-17 line closure. We will continue to make tough but necessary decisions to drive affordability and preserve our ability to invest for the future,” Muilenburg said.
Shutting down C-17 production will cost less than $100 million, according to Boeing.
Muilenburg thanked the employees involved in building the C-17 – 3 000 of whom will be laid off starting from next year. C-17 production also involves more than 650 suppliers in 44 states. In total, some 20 000 jobs will be affected by the closure of the C-17 production line.
To date, Boeing has delivered 257 C-17s, including 223 to the US Air Force and 34 to Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations. The global fleet has accumulated more than 2.6 million flight hours.