I’ve been hearing that the C-17s are getting quite a bit more work than planned due to the continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think most would agree that our commitment in those nations isn’t going to go away any time soon, and I think we’ll also agree that other new commitments will probably use up any slack that might be created by reduced force deployments. And then some.
I’m no big fan of Boeing’s business practices of late, but I’d hesitate to pull the plug on production of what has become the US military’s primary airlift platform. Everything I’ve heard about the C-17 since it joined the force has been good, and it’s not like a replacement is going to be coming on line any time soon.
“A final decision on additional C-17 orders has definitely not been made, despite news reports to the contrary,” Boeing C-17 spokesman Rick Sanford said.
A Boeing statement reiterated its long-standing argument: Independent analyses show that the military, and specifically the U.S. Air Force, has a requirement for more than 180 C-17 planes Boeing is contracted to build.
“Combatant commanders have called for 222 or more,” the statement said.
Cost analyses have been provided at the Air Force’s request for options for as many as 60 more C-17s.
The training and equipment of American forces are a large part of what sets them apart from the militaries of the rest of the world. But one thing that’s overlooked (as usual) is our capability to get those forces where they’re needed in a timely manner. We’re probably even farther ahead of others in that department than we are technologically. And that capability is critical, especially if our forces are going to remain stretched as tightly as they are right now.
Maybe Boeing could put together a tanker design based on the C-17. That would keep lines running (which would preserve the option to build more transports if needed) and would probably do a lot to streamline maintenance and training for the USAF. Thoughts?
In other airlift-related news, the C-130J Hercules Undergoes New Test:
As part of the second phase of the C-130J Hercules qualification test and evaluation, the aircraft will fly airdrop and formation-drop operations later this month.
The aircraft from here will take part in an exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., from Nov. 13 to 17. The evaluation will test the aircraft’s warfighting capabilities.
“The JRTC exercise is the graduation exercise for the airplane-high mobility operations, 24-hour surge operations and interoperability with the Army equipment and personnel generated from Little Rock,” said Lt. Col. Mike Brignola, who will conduct the evaluation.
And then there’s Officials take steps to repair aging C-130s:
Air Force officials are taking steps to repair aging C-130 Hercules transport aircraft that were grounded in February because of cracks found in some of the aging planes.
The cracks that were found were located in the center wing box, the structure that holds the wing to the fuselage of the planes. The Air Force grounded 30 C-130s in February and placed another 60 on restricted flying status.
All of the grounded aircraft are C-130E models, which were purchased in the 1960s. The restricted planes include some “E” models, some 1970s-era “H” models and a few aerial refueling C-130s.
A lot more info on what’s wrong and what’s going to be done to fix it at the link. The story says C-130s are entering “restricted” or “grounded” status at the rate of 1-2 per month.
I don’t think enough people have enough appreciation of the importance that logistics and strategic mobility have to our abilty to conduct military operations.