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News Release


Release No: 320-96
May 31, 1996


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 initiatives.

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 the program.

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.


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