Boeing C–17 Globemaster III

Product Type:

Military Transport Aircraft

Using Service (US):

Air Force (USAF)

Program Status:

No more new aircraft planned (for USAF).
Program supports transition to sustainment.

Prime Contractors:

The Boeing Company
Engines: Pratt & Whitney (United Techn.)

The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III

About the C-17 Globemaster III:

The Boeing C–17 Globemaster III is a wide-body military transport aircraft in service with the U.S. Air Force and six international customers. The C-17 is named Globemaster "III" after the legacy Douglas C-74 Globemaster and Douglas C-124 Globemaster II. Boeing assembles the C-17 at the company's Long Beach, California plant. The C-17 is capable of airlifting outsized and oversized payloads over intercontinental ranges with or without in-flight refueling. The C-17 is powered by four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines, each providing 40,440 pounds of thrust. The F117 is the military designation for the commercial PW2040 used on the Boeing 757.

The capabilities of the C-17 include rapid direct delivery of forces by airland or airdrop into difficult tactical environments. The C–17 is capable of performing both inter-theater and intra-theater airlift missions. The C-17 is the only aircraft capable of routine delivery of outsize cargo (tanks, helicopters, etc.) to short, austere airfields. Carrying a payload of 164,900 pounds, the C-17 can take off from a 7,000-foot runway, fly 2,800 miles (4,500 km), and land on small austere airfields as short as 3,000 feet. The C-17 is equipped with an externally blown flap system that allows for a steep, low-speed final approach and low-landing speeds for short-field landings.

The aircraft is operated by a crew of three (pilot, co-pilot and loadmaster), reducing both manpower requirements and operating costs. This cost-effective flight crew complement is made possible through the use of an advanced digital avionics system and advanced cargo systems. In the cargo compartment, the C-17 carries the Army's wheeled vehicles in two side-by-side rows. For example, three combat-ready Stryker vehicles or 10 HMMWV (Humvees) comprise one deployment load. Also, the C-17 is able to transport the M1 Abrams main battle tank. Furthermore, the C-17 can carry up to 102 troops, 36 litter patients, or 18 standard 463-L pallets. Cargo and vehicles are loaded onto the C-17 through a large aft door that accommodates military vehicles and palletized cargo. The C-17 can carry virtually all of the Army's air-transportable equipment.

The C-17 is equipped with the AN/APS-150 Weather Radar from Honeywell, the AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Receiver (MWR) and the AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures dispensing system. C-17s upgraded with the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) system from Northrop Grumman are equipped with the AN/AAR-54 MWR and a laser transmitter assembly (SLTA or GLTA). LAIRCM provides defense for large aircraft from the growing threat of man-portable air defense (MANPAD) systems. LAIRCM is based on Northrop Grumman's AN/AAQ-24(V) Directional Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) system.

Design work on the C-17 began at McDonnell Douglas' (now Boeing) Long Beach facility in 1981. The C-17 made its first flight in September 1991 and the first production model was delivered to Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina in June 1993. The first squadron of C-17s, the 17th Airlift Squadron, was declared operationally ready in January 1995. Since its first flight, the C-17 has accumulated more than 3 million flying hours (reached the 2 million flight hour milestone in December 2010 and the 3 million mark in May 2015). The C-17 has been involved in numerous conflicts, including Operation Joint Endeavor to support peacekeeping in Bosnia, Operation Allied Force in Kosovo, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Air Force originally planned to buy only 120 C-17s, however, this number has almost doubled. In July 2010, DoD officials told lawmakers that the U.S. military has enough C-17s in its fleet to provide airlift capability for years to come. In total, 223 aircraft have been purchased +1 aircraft in FY 2012 (operational loss replacement of one aircraft).

USAF C-17s are based at 12 bases. These are Charleston Air Force Base (AFB), SC; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA; the Air National Guard Base at Jackson, MS; McGuire AFB, NJ; March Air Reserve Base, CA; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK; Altus AFB, OK; Dover AFB, DL; Travis AFB, CA; Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; and Stewart Air National Guard Base, NY.

As of February 2015, the total U.S. Air Force C-17 inventory is 222 aircraft with a designated service life of 30 years or 42,750 flight hours. On September 12, 2013, the last USAF C-17 was delivered to Charleston AFB in South Carolina.

There are also 44 C-17s in service with eight international customers (United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and the 12-nation Strategic Airlift Capability consortium of NATO). In June 2011, India agreed to acquire 10 C-17s to be delivered in 2013 (five) and 2014 (five). India's first C-17 was delivered to the Indian Air Force on June 11, 2013. The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) operates a fleet of five C-17s (last delivery in March 2015). The Kuwait Air Force took delivery of two C-17s in 2014. Qatar was the first Middle East customer to order the C-17 and took delivery of two aircraft in 2009 and two additional C-17s in 2012. In June 2015, Qatar announced it will buy four of Boeing's five remaining C-17s (already produced and ready for delivery). In November 2012, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) received its sixth C-17. In April 2015, Australia purchased two more aircraft. The United Arab Emirates Air Force took delivery of its sixth C-17 in June 2012. In February 2015, the UAE purchased two more aircraft. In May 2012, the Royal Air Force received an additional C-17 for a total fleet of eight aircraft. The 12-nation Strategic Airlift Capability consortium of NATO took delivery of three C-17s in 2009.

The non-U.S. C-17 fleet includes eight Aircraft stationed at RAF Brize Norton (United Kingdom), six aircraft at RAAF Base Amberley (Australia), five aircraft at RCAF Trenton (Canada), ten aircraft at Hindon Air Force Station (India), three Strategic Airlift Capability NATO aircraft at Papa Air Base (Hungary), four aircraft at Al Udeid Air Base (Qatar), six aircraft at Al Dhafra Air Base (United Arab Emirates), and one aircraft delivered to Kuwait in February 2014.

Boeing will finish production of the C-17 and close the Long Beach assembly facility in mid-2015. The company produced 10 "white tail" aircraft (planes without buyers), confident it would be able to find customers for these aircraft (one unsold aircraft remains as of June 2015).



Price/Unit Cost:

In 2012, the unit cost of a C-17 was $225 million. The airframe cost $178.56 million, the four F117-PW-100 engines cost $39 million ($9.75 million each), and the avionics cost $7.44 million.


The C-17 provides outsize intra-theater airland/airdrop capability not available in the current airlift force. The aircraft provides rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or directly to forward bases in the deployment area.

FY 2015 DoD C-17 Program:

Major C-17 modifications in FY 2015 include Pylon Stub FFLZ Fixed Fairing (FF) Translating Fairing; Block 13-17 Retrofit; Identification Friend or Foe Global Air Traffic Management (IFF GATM) Mode 5; On Board Inert Gas Generating System (OBIGGS) II; and Next Generation Communication Navigation Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM). Procurement funds in the amount of $89.4 million have been provided for C-17 modifications + RDT&E funds in the amount of $83.0 million.

FY 2016 DoD C-17 Program:

Major C-17 modifications in FY 2016 include the Pylon Stub Flammable Fluid Leakage Zone (FFLZ) Fixed Fairing (FF) Translating Fairing; Identification Friend or Foe Global Air Traffic Management (IFF GATM) Mode 5; ILS Identification and Flight Control Updates; and the Next Generation Communication Navigation Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM). OBIGGS II and MFOQA terminate in FY 16. Procurement funds in the amount of $47.0 million have been provided for C-17 modifications + RDT&E funds in the amount of $54.8 million.

For more information, click to see the Complete FY 2016 C-17 Modifications Budget.

Sources: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), The Boeing Company,
Northrop Grumman, Honeywell, BAE Systems, Orbital ATK, and Pratt & Whitney.

Specifications Armament DoD Spending FY2016 Budget

Last Update: June 17, 2015.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (

External Resources:

Boeing's C-17 Site: Boeing C-17 Globemaster III

Orbital ATK: AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning System
BAE Systems: AN/ALE-47 CMDS

YouTube: The C-17 Globemaster III | YouTube Videos

Fact Sheet: C-17 Globemaster III | Fact Sheet

C-17 U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on the C–17 Globemaster III in FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015 and FY 2016
DoD Purchases of C–17 Globemaster III Aircraft in FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015 and FY 2016
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2012/13/14 + Budget for FYs 2015 + 2016

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the C-17 Globemaster III

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

Purchases of C-17 Aircraft (USAF-2014) Modification of C-17 Aircraft (USAF) RDT&E: C-17A (USAF)

Aircraft Specifications: C–17A Globemaster III

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Primary Function: Cargo and troop transport
Prime Contractor: The Boeing Co.
Power Plant: 4x Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines
Thrust: 40,440 pounds (each engine)
Wingspan: 169 ft 10 in (51.8 m)
Length: 174 ft (53.0 m)
Height: 55 ft 1 in (16.8 m)
Cargo Compartment: Length, 88 ft (26.8 m); width, 18 ft (5.5 m); height, 12 ft 4 in (3.8 m)
Weight (Empty): 282,500 lbs (128,140 kg)
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 585,000 lbs (265,350 kg)
Pallet Positions: 18x 463L standard pallets
Payload (Cargo): 164,900 lbs (74,800 kg)
Speed: Cruise: Mach 0.76/450 kts/515 mph (830 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 45,000 ft at cruising speed (13,716 m)
Range: 2,420 nm/2,785 miles (4,484 km)
Aeromedical Evacuation Crew: A basic crew of five (two flight nurses and three medical technicians)
is added for aeromedical evacuation missions. Medical crew may be altered as required by the needs of patients
Capacity: 102 troops/paratroops; 36 litter and 54 ambulatory patients and attendants;
1x M1 Abrams Tank or 3x Stryker Armored Vehicles or 10x HMMWV (humvees)
Armament/Weapons: None
Crew: Three (two pilots and one loadmaster)
Price/Unit Cost: $225 million (in FY 2012)
First Flight: September 15, 1991
Deployed: June 1993; Initial Operational Capability (IOC): January 17, 1995
Aircraft Inventory:
FY2012: Total: 213; Active: 187; ANG: 12; Reserve: 14 (as of September 2011)
FY2013: Total: 217; Active: 181; ANG: 18; Reserve: 18 (as of September 2012)
FY2014: Total: 218; Active: 180; ANG: 20; Reserve: 18 (as of September 2013)
FY2015: Total: 222; Active: 178; ANG: 26; Reserve: 18 (as of September 2014)

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