Aug 18 2006
San Francisco, CA – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement in response to Boeing’s announcement that due to a lack of U.S. government orders, the company has taken the first step in shutting down the production of C-17 military cargo aircraft by directing suppliers to stop work on uncommitted airplanes:
“I am a big believer in the C-17 transport, which has been essential to our combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with our global fight against terror and international human relief efforts.
It is unfortunate that the Air Force and the Administration have not been clear with regard to their future plans for additional C-17 production. They have, instead, sent mixed messages – happy to let the Congress do what is necessary to buy more aircraft, but unwilling to make the difficult budget decisions to ensure that production continues.
This is unfair to the thousands of Californians, and other people, employed in the manufacture of this outstanding aircraft.
Boeing has significant financial exposure from their orders of ‘long lead time’ parts for C-17’s from their suppliers. Lacking a commitment from the Air Force to purchase additional C-17s – which many at the Pentagon indicate are needed, Boeing has made the decision to reduce its potential losses.
I will work closely with my colleagues in Congress to advocate on behalf of the C-17 program. It would truly be a shame to prematurely close down production of one of the great ‘workhorses’ of our military.
The Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee has chosen to fully fund the procurement of 12 C-17 transport aircraft in the FY07 Defense Appropriations bill, along with an additional three C-17s as part of the $50 billion ‘bridge fund’ for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition, the Subcommittee strongly voiced its support for the continued production of C-17s by including report language directing the Department of Defense to request funding for the program in FY08.
Air Force Chief of Staff General Moseley has reiterated a number of times that the C-17 has been ‘worth its weight in gold,’ flying at an estimated 60 to 70 percent above projections in intra-theater lift missions in the Middle East. Moreover, it has the highest reliability and mission capable rate of any aircraft in its class. Though comprising just 55 percent of the current strategic airlift fleet, the C-17 is flying 80 percent of all strategic airlift missions.
As the most versatile and flexible transport in the U.S. military today, the C-17 is critical to the forward deployment of troops and cargo, can perform airlift and airdrop missions, and has been a vital component of aero-medical evacuations.
It should also not be forgotten that the C-17 has a number of capabilities pertaining to peacekeeping and humanitarian relief. The aircraft was a welcome site to those affected by the tsunamis in Asia, and the hurricanes along the Gulf Coast.
It remains critical that the Air Force sustain the future of the C-17 program by supporting additional aircraft in the FY08 budget request. I am disappointed that no commitment has been forthcoming.”