Secretary of the Air Force, Sheila E. Widnall, today signed
letters of transmittal to McDonnell Douglas and Pratt and Whitney
for 80 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and engines, respectively,
over seven years. President Clinton recently signed into law a
budget accord for the U.S. Government that contained language
approving a multi-year purchase.
The contracts are valued at $16.2 billion and will be the
longest and the largest multi-year contracts ever entered into by
the government. The Air Force will realize a savings of over $1
billion through these long-term commitments. This is in addition
to previously negotiated annual savings of more than $4.4 billion
realized from production efficiencies, streamlining and reform
The C-17 is the Air Force's highest priority near-term
modernization program. This multi-year procurement will allow
the Air Force to procure the new core airlifter, fulfill the
strategic airlift needs and capture the greatest savings across
This is a historic day for both the Air Force and the
Nation, said Secretary of the Air Force Sheila E. Widnall.
Through the tremendous efforts of men and women in the Air
Force, McDonnell Douglas, Pratt and Whitney, the Office of the
Secretary of Defense and Congress, the C-17 program has shattered
decades-old paradigms of how we develop and buy weapons systems.
The C-17 is the right aircraft, at the right time for America.
In commenting on the contracts, Air Force Chief of Staff
General Ronald R. Fogleman said: These commitments are not only
important for the Air Force, but for the other military services,
the warfighting commanders in chief and the Nation. The C-17
satisfies the Department of Defense's most significant shortfall
in strategic lift and supplies the joint team with the most
flexible, responsible and capable air mobility ever developed.
With the C-17, our Nation will remain unchallenged in its
capability to project power and influence events anywhere in the
world with speed and certainty.
The 80 aircraft purchased under multi-year procurement will
bring the C-17 fleet to 120 aircraft with an expected contract
completion date of November 2004. The purchase will guarantee
that the airlift capability of the nation will be maintained
uninterrupted as the workhorse C-141 is retired from service over
the next decade.
The C-17 demonstrated superior airlift capability in support
of Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia; and recently, C-17s flew
in support of civilian evacuation from war torn Liberia.