On a recent early morning inside a large hangar in Long Beach, Calif., 174 foot wings, and nose, tail and cargo sections came together to form the massive C-17 Globemaster III airlifter . The occasion, called “major join” is the first time in the assembly process that the C-17 is considered an aircraft. It’s also the last time the large military aircraft will come together in the facility and the end of an era in Southern California – once the U.S. center for military and commercial aircraft production.
While production of the C-17 may be coming to a close, the versatile airlifter has a long runway ahead. The worldwide C-17 fleet has flown more than 2.8 million flight hours delivering troops and heavy cargo, airdropping humanitarian relief supplies and transporting injured warfighters from the front lines and delivering them home safely. Since the very first C-17 was placed into service in 1993, Boeing personnel have worked to support, sustain and modernize the fleet and will continue to do so for many years to come.
The C-17 program has a public-private agreement designed around the concept of performance-based logistics in which customers pay for C-17s to be ready for the mission, not specific parts or services. The arrangement is a model for sustaining a worldwide fleet with parts availability, economies of scale for purchasing materials and technical expertise for repairs and maintenance. It’s also a model for serving the warfighter while saving taxpayer dollars and supporting the Pentagon’s Better Buying Power initiatives.
Check out this video of workers speaking about the major join of the last C-17 and the pride passing along an aircraft that will continue to serve for decades.