Boeing delivered the first of an expected two C-17 Globemaster III airlifters to Kuwait on February 13, leaving the company’s Long Beach, Calif., plant with 20 more jets to build before production ends.
In September, six days after delivering the 223rd and last C-17 for the U.S. Air Force, Boeing announced that it will close the Long Beach final assembly facility in 2015, affecting nearly 3,000 employees in Long Beach; Macon, Ga.; Mesa, Ariz.; and St. Louis. The company has said that it will deliver the remaining five of 10 C-17s India has ordered this year. It plans to build 15 more jets that do not yet have customers.
During a roundtable meeting with reporters last week at the Singapore Airshow, Chris Raymond, Boeing Defense, Space and Security vice president of business development and strategy, said the company is discussing possible further commitments from several current C-17 operators, as well as orders from up to four potential new customers. “We made the hard decision to close the line but to go ahead and protect a certain amount of additional production,” he said. “When we made that decision for how many [airplanes] to protect, we put some logic behind that in terms of the countries and the quantities they had been talking about.”
As of the delivery to the Kuwaiti Air Force, Boeing said it has delivered 260 of the rugged four-engine transports to U.S. and international customers. In addition to the C-17s it has built for the U.S. Air Force, the company has delivered 37 total aircraft to Kuwait, Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, UAE, the UK and the NATO Strategic Airlift Capability.
Boeing will continue to support the worldwide fleet as part of the C-17 Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program performance-based logistics agreement.