C-17 Globemaster III

C-17 Globemaster III military transport landing on dirt airfield

The C-17 Globemaster III is a high-wing, four-engine, T-tailed aircraft with a rear loading ramp. In 1980, the U.S. Air Force asked for a larger transport that could be refueled in flight and use rough forward fields so that it could fly anywhere in the world. On Aug. 28, 1981, McDonnell Douglas won the contract with its proposal to build the C-17. The design met or exceeded all Air Force design specifications, and the huge transport was able to use runways at 19,000 airfields. The C-17 is built in Long Beach, Calif.

The first C-17 squadron was operational in January 1995. Since then the C-17 fleet has amassed more than 75,000 flying hours and has been involved in numerous contingency operations, including flying troops and equipment to Operation Joint Endeavor to support peacekeeping in Bosnia and the Allied Operation in Kosovo. Eight C-17s, in 1998, completed the longest airdrop mission in history, flying more than 8,000 nautical miles from the United States to Central Asia, dropping troops and equipment after more than 19 hours in the air.

With its 160,000-pound payload, the C-17 can take off from a 7,600-foot airfield, fly 2,400 nautical miles and land on a small, austere airfield in 3,000 feet or less. The C-17 can be refueled in flight. On the ground, a fully loaded aircraft, using engine reversers, can back up a 2 percent slope.

During normal testing, C-17s have set 33 world records, including payload to altitude time-to-climb and the short takeoff and landing mark, in which the C-17 took off in less than 1,400 feet, carried a payload of 44,000 pounds to altitude and landed in less than 1,400 feet. Boeing is under contract with the Air Force to build and deliver 100 C-17s through at least 2008.

In May 1995, the C-17 received the prestigious Collier Trophy, symbolizing the top aeronautical achievement of 1994. In February 1999, President Bill Clinton presented the nation's top award for quality -- the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award -- to Boeing Airlift and Tanker Programs, maker of the C-17, for business excellence.

C-17 Globemaster III home page

First flight: Sept. 15, 1991
Model number: C-17
Length: 173 feet 11 inches
Height: 55 feet 1 inch
Wingspan: 169 feet 10 inches
Weight: 277,000 pounds
Maximum takeoff gross weight: 585,000 pound
Power plant: Four Pratt & Whitney 40,500-pound thrust engines
Range: 2,762 miles
Cruise speed: 0.77 Mach
Service ceiling: 45,000 feet
Accommodation: 102 troops or paratroops; 48 litter and 54 ambulatory patients and attendants; or 170,900 pounds of cargo
Crew: 2 flight crew, 1 loadmaster