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Release No: 587-95
November 03, 1995


Deputy Secretary of Defense John White announced today that the McDonnell Douglas C-17 Globemaster III will continue to be acquired as the Defense Department's core airlifter. The decision to plan, program and budget for the 120 C-17s culminated a series of Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) meetings and signals the end of a two-year probationary period for McDonnell Douglas. The production contract is valued at approximately $18 billion.

The Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) signed by Paul Kaminski, under secretary of defense for acquisition and technology and DAB chairman, follows two days of intense discussion in the Defense Acquisition Board. The ADM directed the Air Force to obtain multi-year procurement options for a buy in lots of 120 C-17s or 86 C-17s through the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP). The 86 option would be at a reduced procurement rate to insure program stability and could serve to be the first multi-year procurement increment of the C-17 program. It also deferred further effort on a modified Boeing 747-400 Non-Developmental Airlift Aircraft (NDAA), until completion of Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) enhancement studies due in June 1996.

The CRAF studies will consider both commercial and modified versions of the Boeing 747-400 for use in the CRAF fleet. Kaminski acknowledged in his decision memorandum that "the CRAF has served us exceedingly well, providing great benefit at a relatively low cost."

During the past two years, the Department has been engaged in a comprehensive process to refine airlift requirements, analyze various aspects of airlift, and prepare for an airlift fleet mix decision. The DAB review satisfied congressional direction to conduct a Cost And Operational Effectiveness Analysis, to consider the C-17 and mixes of alternative aircraft, and to preserve intertheater airlift capacity. Initial material solutions considered included: buy a modified Boeing 747-400 NDAA, restart the C-5 production line, extend the C- 141 service life, and continue C- 17 production. The field eventually narrowed to: the Boeing 747-400, the Lockheed-Martin C-5D, and the McDonnell Douglas C- 17.

The Department's decision process looked, as a first step, to evaluate the health of the C- 17 program in terms of cost, schedule and performance. The DAB then established military unique requirements. Finally, it assessed the cost-effectiveness of a range of fleet mixes.

Based on a dramatic turnaround of the C-17 program, this comprehensive analysis of the Nation's airlift requirements and capabilities, and the military capability and flexibility the C-17 provides, the DAB determined that planning for a buy of 120 C-17s provides the best value and best means to improve our ability to rapidly apply U.S. military power throughout the world.

The C-17 will bring enormous capability in an ever changing national security environment. The C-17's ability to deliver outsize cargo during major regional contingencies will enable DoD to meet the requirements established by the 1995 Mobility Requirements Study Bottom-Up Review Update. Additionally, Department analyses indicated that the C-17's easy loading and unloading, ability to carry outsized equipment, increased ground maneuverability, and short runway capability are force enablers for world-wide operations.

The decision further directs the Air Force and the Army to identify funding requirements and develop a joint test plan to certify the existing fleet of C-5A/Bs for heavy equipment airdrop.

Kaminski gave approval for eight C-17 aircraft in Lot VIII and advanced procurement for Lot IX. Approval of the specific acquisition strategy for subsequent lots is expected when multi-year options and CRAF enhancement opportunities are evaluated in June 1996.

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