“No more C-17s” – U.S. Defense Officials

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USAF C-17

The military already has enough large transport planes and the appropriation of any more in the next budget year will force some into premature retirement, Defense Department officials told a congressional panel last Wednesday.

“We have enough C-17s,” Mike McCord, principal deputy undersecretary of defense (comptroller), said.

Senators Thomas Carper and John McCain said that the C-17, in addition to the C-5, has been critical to airlift in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, they said, the military’s current fleet of 223 C-17s and 111 C-5s is more than enough airlift capability for years to come. Air Force Maj. Gen. Susan Y. Desjardins, director of strategic plans for Air Mobility Command, and Alan Estevez, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for logistical and materiel readiness agreed with the leaders’ view.

A department study that concluded in February was consistent with two other studies that found that the current fleet is sufficient “even in the most demanding environments” to take the military through 2016, McCord said. The oldest plane in the transport fleet, Lockheed’s C-5A Galaxy, will be viable until 2025, and the fleet as a whole should last until 2040, he said.

The department has not requested C-17s since the fiscal 2007 budget, yet Congress has added them every year since, spending about $1.25 billion on C-17s that they don’t really need, according to McCord.

The defense secretary has made that case to Congress, and President Barack Obama has promised to veto any legislation that provides for more C-17s.

- Air-Attack

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