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Airframe: The C-17 Globemaster III

A high-wing, four-engine, T-tailed military transport aircraft, the multi-service C-17 can carry large equipment, supplies and troops directly to small airfields in harsh terrain anywhere in the world. The massive, sturdy, long-haul aircraft tackles distance, destination and heavy, oversized payloads in unpredictable conditions. It has delivered cargo in every worldwide operation since the 1990s.

Airman Daniel Giulian, 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, transfers liquid oxygen from a tank to a C-17 Globemaster III at dusk on Feb. 11, 2015, at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. When exposed to open air, the minus-297-degree LOX evaporates into a gas. Liquid oxygen is used as a means of distributing breathable air to aircrew members and passengers above 10,000 feet above sea level. The C-17 can hold approximately 155 gallons of LOX. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Dennis Sloan)

Airman Daniel Giulian, 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, transfers liquid oxygen from a tank to a C-17 Globemaster III at dusk on Feb. 11, 2015, at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. When exposed to open air, the minus-297-degree LOX evaporates into a gas. Liquid oxygen is used as a means of distributing breathable air to aircrew members and passengers above 10,000 feet above sea level. The C-17 can hold approximately 155 gallons of LOX. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Dennis Sloan)

C-17 Globemaster III.(U.S. Air Force photo)

C-17 Globemaster III.(U.S. Air Force photo)

A United States Air Force C-17A Globemaster III transport aircraft in flight over RAAF Base Amberley after completing the airborne insertion to the Shoalwater Bay Training Area. (Royal Australian Air Force photo by Cpl. Shannon McCarthy/Released)

A United States Air Force C-17A Globemaster III transport aircraft in flight over RAAF Base Amberley after completing the airborne insertion to the Shoalwater Bay Training Area. (Royal Australian Air Force photo by Cpl. Shannon McCarthy/Released)

C-17 Globemaster III 
(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey)

C-17 Globemaster III (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey)

C-17 Globemaster III 
(U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock)

C-17 Globemaster III (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock)

C-17 Globemaster III 
(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV)

C-17 Globemaster III (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV)

Airmen from the 315th Airlift Wing work to prepare a C-17 Globemaster III for an airdrop mission with Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division during exercise Crescent Reach 16 on May 26, 2016, at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. Crescent Reach is an annual exercise designed to test and evaluate Joint Base Charleston�s ability to mobilize and launch a large-scale aircraft formation in addition to training, processing and deploying Airmen and cargo in response to a simulated crisis abroad. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson)

Airmen from the 315th Airlift Wing work to prepare a C-17 Globemaster III for an airdrop mission with Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division during exercise Crescent Reach 16 on May 26, 2016, at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. Crescent Reach is an annual exercise designed to test and evaluate Joint Base Charleston's ability to mobilize and launch a large-scale aircraft formation in addition to training, processing and deploying Airmen and cargo in response to a simulated crisis abroad. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson)

A C-17 Globemaster III from the Alaska Air National Guard�s 249th Airlift Squadron drops off paratroopers and equipment as part of an astronaut rescue exercise in the Atlantic Ocean near Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Jan. 14, 2016. The 45th Operations Group�s Detachment 3 joined NASA's Commercial Crew Program, Air Force Reserve pararescuemen, combat rescue officers, and survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists to practice recovering astronauts quickly and safely in the event they would need to abort their spacecraft. (U.S Air Force photo/Matthew Jurgens)

A C-17 Globemaster III from the Alaska Air National Guard's 249th Airlift Squadron drops off paratroopers and equipment as part of an astronaut rescue exercise in the Atlantic Ocean near Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Jan. 14, 2016. The 45th Operations Group's Detachment 3 joined NASA's Commercial Crew Program, Air Force Reserve pararescuemen, combat rescue officers, and survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists to practice recovering astronauts quickly and safely in the event they would need to abort their spacecraft. (U.S Air Force photo/Matthew Jurgens)

Members of the 58th Airlift Squadron release unilateral airdrop training loads from a C-17 Globemaster III during an airdrop training mission at the Sooner Drop Zone April 11, 2014, near Hollis, Okla. The 97th Aerial Operations Flight prepares airdrop cargo pallets and loads them onto the C-17s. Their mission provides C-17 aircrews with realistic training scenarios, which consist of on and off loading general cargo and vehicles as well as aerial delivery materials for airdrop training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jesse Lopez)
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Members of the 58th Airlift Squadron release unilateral airdrop training loads from a C-17 Globemaster III during an airdrop training mission at the Sooner Drop Zone April 11, 2014, near Hollis, Okla. The 97th Aerial Operations Flight prepares airdrop cargo pallets and loads them onto the C-17s. Their mission provides C-17 aircrews with realistic training scenarios, which consist of on and off loading general cargo and vehicles as well as aerial delivery materials for airdrop training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jesse Lopez)

Seven U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, 11 KC-10 Extender aircraft and four C-5 Galaxy aircraft assigned to the 60th Air Mobility Wing line up at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., Sept. 11, 2013, for the Freedom Launch honoring the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The first plane departed at 8:46 a.m., the same time terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, with the remaining 21 aircraft launching consecutively during a 36-minute time frame. Terrorists hijacked four passenger aircraft Sept. 11, 2001. Two of the aircraft were deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center in New York; one was crashed into the Pentagon; the fourth crashed near Shanksville, Pa. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks. (DoD photo by David Cushman, U.S. Air Force/Released)
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Seven U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, 11 KC-10 Extender aircraft and four C-5 Galaxy aircraft assigned to the 60th Air Mobility Wing line up at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., Sept. 11, 2013, for the Freedom Launch honoring the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The first plane departed at 8:46 a.m., the same time terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, with the remaining 21 aircraft launching consecutively during a 36-minute time frame. Terrorists hijacked four passenger aircraft Sept. 11, 2001. Two of the aircraft were deliberately crashed into the World Trade Center in New York; one was crashed into the Pentagon; the fourth crashed near Shanksville, Pa. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks. (DoD photo by David Cushman, U.S. Air Force/Released)

A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft deployed from McChord Airfield, Wash., descends for landing at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Nov. 2, 2014. The men and women of Bagram Air Field service the Department of Defense’s busiest single runway. Airmen and civilian contractors work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure airfield operations are successfully accomplished. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young/Released)
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A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft deployed from McChord Airfield, Wash., descends for landing at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Nov. 2, 2014. The men and women of Bagram Air Field service the Department of Defense’s busiest single runway. Airmen and civilian contractors work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure airfield operations are successfully accomplished. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young/Released)

A NATO C-17 Globemaster III airdrops an M119 105mm Towed Howitzer assigned to the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in support of exercise Saber Strike 15 at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland, June 15, 2015. Saber Strike is a U.S. European Command-sponsored, Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed regional and multilateral command post and field exercise designed to increase interoperability between the United States and partner nations.  (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Marcus Floyd/Released)
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A NATO C-17 Globemaster III airdrops an M119 105mm Towed Howitzer assigned to the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in support of exercise Saber Strike 15 at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in Poland, June 15, 2015. Saber Strike is a U.S. European Command-sponsored, Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed regional and multilateral command post and field exercise designed to increase interoperability between the United States and partner nations. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Marcus Floyd/Released)

Airmen participating in Exercise Scorpion Lens 2015 disembark a C-17 Globemaster III at North Auxiliary Airfield, S.C., Feb. 9, 2015 and make their way to a simulated bare-base location. Exercise Scorpion Lens 2015 is an annual exercise designed to validate the ability of Air Force combat camera Airmen to survive, operate and provide directed imagery capability in an austere environment, including in the presence of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear contamination. Combat camera Airmen document a full range of military operations in support of senior leaders and combatant commanders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Reel/Released)
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Airmen participating in Exercise Scorpion Lens 2015 disembark a C-17 Globemaster III at North Auxiliary Airfield, S.C., Feb. 9, 2015 and make their way to a simulated bare-base location. Exercise Scorpion Lens 2015 is an annual exercise designed to validate the ability of Air Force combat camera Airmen to survive, operate and provide directed imagery capability in an austere environment, including in the presence of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear contamination. Combat camera Airmen document a full range of military operations in support of senior leaders and combatant commanders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Reel/Released)

A C-17 Globemaster III flies over Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, during a training sortie March 24, 2016. Training sorties are imperative to pilot development and overall mission effectiveness. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman James Richardson)
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A C-17 Globemaster III flies over Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, during a training sortie March 24, 2016. Training sorties are imperative to pilot development and overall mission effectiveness. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman James Richardson)

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft drops pallets of water and food over Mirebalais, Haiti, Jan. 21, 2010, to be distributed by members of the United Nations.  Department of Defense assets have been deployed to assist in the Haiti relief effort following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that that struck the country Jan. 12, 2010.  The aircraft is from the 437th Air Wing out of Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. (DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr., U.S. Air Force/Released)
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A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft drops pallets of water and food over Mirebalais, Haiti, Jan. 21, 2010, to be distributed by members of the United Nations. Department of Defense assets have been deployed to assist in the Haiti relief effort following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that that struck the country Jan. 12, 2010. The aircraft is from the 437th Air Wing out of Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. (DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. James L. Harper Jr., U.S. Air Force/Released)

Fort Meade, MD -- The C-17 Globemaster III has proven to be a workhorse in the U.S. Air Force’s airlift arsenal. Utilizing strategic airlift capabilities the aircraft is able to deliver troops and cargo to bases in contingency environments and forward operating bases in austere locations. The airframe’s versatile platform can perform tactical airlift and airdrop missions and be configured to conduct aeromedical evacuations when required.


Operated by eight countries and NATO, the C-17 has delivered cargo in every worldwide operation since the 1990s.


DEVELOPMENT

In 1979, the Defense Department started the Cargo-Experimental program, as the Air Force was looking for a large air mobility platform with in-flight refueling capabilities for global reach missions. McDonnell Douglas won the contract in 1981 with its proposal to build the C-17.

NASA played a huge role in the development of the C-17 contributing research and technology that had been made available to the industry over four decades. The powered-lift, developed by researchers at the NASA Langley Research Center in the mid-1950s, gave the aircraft close to double the lift coefficient of a conventional transport airframe by positioning the engines and flaps in a way that directed the exhaust downward. The development of this technology gave the C-17 short take off and landing capabilities allowing it to takeoff and land on runways as short as 3,500 feet and 90 feet wide. The aircraft is also able to turn around on these narrow runways using a three point star turn and its reverse capability.

The supercritical wing, winglets, fly-by-wire system, engine performance enhancements and composite materials used throughout the aircraft were all developed in partnership with NASA.

The C-17 made its maiden flight Sept. 15, 1991. The first production model was delivered to Charleston Air Force Base, now known as Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, June 14, 1993, and the first C-17 squadron was declared operational Jan. 17, 1995.

The Air Force’s final C-17 was completed by Boeing in Sept. 2013, and delivered to JB Charleston, completing a 20-year run of production.


OPERATIONAL HISTORY

The C-17 fleet has been involved in many contingency operations, including Joint Endeavor, Operations Allied Force, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, the humanitarian relief efforts following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and the 2011 floods in Pakistan. In 1998, eight C-17s completed the longest airdrop in mission history, flying more than 8,000 nautical miles from the U.S. to Central Asia, dropping troops and equipment after more than 19 hours in the air.

Currently, the global-force of C-17s is operated by the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and India.


UNITS

Air Mobility Command: 21st Airlift Squadron, Travis AFB, California; 3rd Airlift Squadron, Dover AFB, Delaware; 62nd Airlift Wing, JB Lewis-McChord, Washington; 437th Airlift Wing, JB Charleston; and 305th Air Mobility Wing, JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

Pacific Air Forces: 517th Airlift Squadron, JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; and 535th Airlift Squadron, JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Air Education and Training Command: 58th Airlift Squadron, Altus AFB, Oklahoma.

Air Force Materiel Command operates two C-17s at Edwards AFB, California.

Air Force Reserve Command: 729th Airlift Squadron, March Air Reserve Base, California; 445th Airlift Wing, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio; 301st Airlift Squadron, Travis AFB; 446th Airlift Wing, JB Lewis-McChord; 315th Airlift Wing, JB Charleston; 732nd Airlift Squadron, JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst; and the 326th Airlift Squadron, Dover AFB.

Air National Guard: 172nd Airlift Wing, Jackson, Mississippi; 105th Airlift Wing, Stewart ANGB, New York; 249th Airlift Squadron, JB Elmendorf-Richardson; 204th Airlift Squadron, JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam; 155th Airlift Squadron, Memphis, Tennessee; and the 167th Airlift Squadron, Martinsburg, West Virginia.


DID YOU KNOW?

  • A fully loaded C-17 can reverse up a slope while on the ground.

  • C-17s have set 33 world records, including payload to altitude time-to-climb and the short takeoff and landing mark.

  • In 2015 the worldwide C-17 fleet reached 3 million flying hours. The equivalent of flying around the Earth 55,555 times, 2,948 trips to the moon or a single C-17 flying nonstop for 342 years.

  • ​The C-17 is sometimes referred to as “The Moose” due to its bulky appearance and the sound it makes while refueling.



AIRCRAFT STATS

Primary function: Cargo and troop transport

Contractor: Boeing Company

Power plant: four Pratt and Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines

Thrust: 40,440 pounds each engine

Wingspan: 169 feet, 10 inches (to winglet tips) (51.75 meters)

Length: 174 feet (53 meters)

Height: 55 feet, 1 inches (16.79 meters)

Cargo Compartment: length, 88 feet (26.82 meters); width, 18 feet (5.48 meters); height, 12 feet 4 inches (3.76 meters)

Speed: 450 knots at 28,000 feet (8,534 meters) (Mach 0.74)

Range: Global with in-flight refueling

Crew: Three (two pilots and one loadmaster)

Aeromedical Evacuation Crew: A basic crew of five (two flight nurses and three medical technicians) is added for aeromedical evacuation missions. Medical crew may be altered by needs of patients.

Load: 102 troops/paratroops; 36 litter and 54 ambulatory patients and attendants; more than 170,000 pounds (77,519 kilograms) of cargo (18 pallet positions)

Unit Cost: $202.3 million (fiscal 1998 constant dollars)

Date Deployed: June 1993

Inventory: Active Duty, 187; Air Force Reserve, 14; Air National Guard, 12

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