Seventh C-17 Globemaster arrives at RAAF Amberley

C-17A Globemaster Pilot, Flying Officer Conor O’Neill and SQNLDR Ellen Fell of the Capability, Acquisition and Sustainment Group on the 36 Squadron flight line

Australia’s love affair with the C-17A global airlift aircraft continues, with the delivery of the seventh aircraft A41-213 to Amberley recently, and in record acquistion time.

Defence says that a team approach between Capability, Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) and Air Force contributed to the success of the purchase and delivery of the seventh C-17A, to be followed later this year with an eighth aircraft.

Australia’s acquisition of these additional C-17s, confirmed just months ago, doubles the original order of four C-17s envisaged seven years ago. Australia wanted the C-17 in its inventory for basically one important operational combination: range and payload. Australia is a vast country, with coast to coast distances roughly equivalent across continental United States. But it’s the C-17’s increased use in recent years on overseas deployments that requires a global airlifter that can travel long distances at jet aircraft speeds and carry a lot of cargo, which could include many combat troops and armoured vehicles such as the large Abrams M1-A1 Main Battle Tank. The C-17 also has self protection systems onboard, enabling safer approaches into and departure from airfields where threat from ground fire exists.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews also points to the suitability of the C-17 to become part of the networked defence force of the future.

“Under Plan Jericho, the Air Force is dedicated to developing a networked, future joint force that can respond across the spectrum – from combat to humanitarian support, the Minister said. “An additional two C-17A aircraft will help us achieve that.”

An additional factor in acquiring additional aircraft now is that Boeing is in the process of shutting down its Long Beach, California C-17 final assembly line, with work on the 279th and last C-17 now largely complete. The seventh and eighth Australian C-17s were acquired from a final batch of 10 Boeing built as ‘white tails’ (aircraft funded by Boeing in antipation of future orders). Only one of these aircraft remains unsold.