C-17 builder Boeing earlier this month delivered its 223rd and final Globemaster to the Air Force -- that's it in the photo above, rolling out onto the flight line at the aerospace giant's facility in Long Beach, Calif. Still, the fleet of capacious cargo carriers likely has many years ahead of it in continuing to support missions both martial and humanitarian.
And while Boeing has completed its contractual obligations to the Air Force, it isn't quite done building C-17 aircraft. It still has 22 more Globemasters to put together for other customers around the world. But then that's it (save, of course, for years of support and modernization yet to come). Boeing said this week that it will finally cease C-17 production in 2015.
Last week's flight came almost 22 years to the day after the maiden flight of the C-17 (September 15, 1991), and the Air Force first took delivery of a production model in June 1993. To date, Boeing has delivered a grand total of 257 C-17 aircraft, including 34 to the UK, Australia, India, Qatar, and others.
A loadmaster (center) greets troops boarding a C-17 Globemaster III in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on July 25, 2013.
"Today we uploaded 137 passengers. First we put 53 on our sidewall seats and then the rest filled up the center line seats that we have installed on the aircraft," said Tech. Sgt. Dequan Barthell, a loadmaster evaluator with the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron Detachment 1. "Once we have the passengers on board, we normally have two to four baggage pallets to upload. So we have to reconfigure the ramp to upload the pallets and then we're on our way."
The C-17, according to the Air Force, can carry just about any air-transportable equipment the Army brings its way.