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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 022-95
January 17, 1995

FIRST C-17 SQUADRON DECLARED OPERATIONAL

The commander of the Air Force's Air Mobility Command declared the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of the first C-17 Globemaster III squadron today. Gen. Robert L. Rutherford's decision is a significant milestone for America's newest airlifter. It means the 17th Airlift Squadron, assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing, and the Air Force Reserve's 317th Airlift Squadron, assigned to the 315th Airlift Wing, both at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., will officially begin flying operational AMC "Global Reach" missions.

The first C-17 arrived at Charleston AFB in June 1993. By December 1994, the 437th was fully equipped with a fleet of 12 aircraft and 48 crews. The 12 aircraft will be shared with the Air Force Reserve unit. Together, both active duty and reserve aircrews have already demonstrated the C-17's ability to airlift personnel and equipment with missions to Southwest Asia, Central America and the Caribbean basin.

IOC declaration is a major step in modernizing the nation's strategic airlift fleet. The C-17, designed to replace the aging C-141 Starlifter fleet as the nation's core airlift aircraft, combines the best features of older airlifters within a single airframe. The C-17 is about the size of the C-141, but can carry twice the Starlifter's payload. It can also carry outsized equipment strategic distances like the C-5 Galaxy, yet land on airstrips normally accessible only to the C-130 Hercules.

Built by McDonnell Douglas at Long Beach, Calif., the C-17 can carry 160,000 pounds of cargo, unrefueled, 2,400 nautical miles at a cruise speed of 450 knots. With a maximum payload of 169,000 pounds, the aircraft is designed to carry every air transportable piece of equipment in the U.S. Army inventory, from Patriot air defense missile batteries and Bradley fighting vehicles to M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks.

The C-17 can be aerial refueled, land on airstrips as short as 3,000 feet, back up, rapidly offload cargo, and is designed to airdrop equipment, cargo or paratroopers. The aircraft completed developmental testing of these capabilities on Dec. 16, 1994. During these tests, the C-17 set 21 world performance records in three weight classes of the heavy aircraft category and one additional world record in the short takeoff and landing category. The Air Force has contracted to buy 40 C-17s from McDonnell Douglas. A Defense Acquisition Board decision on extending the buy beyond 40 aircraft is scheduled for November 1995.