Unless Boeing can sell a few more C-17 Globemaster III transports to international customers or strike a novel deal with the U.S. Air Force to swap old planes for new ones, the company will end production of the giant cargo plane in 2015 after a more than 20-year run.
Trading old C-17s for new ones — akin to what the service does with its Lockheed Martin C-130Js — could extend the line several years, sources and analysts said. Rather than retiring the aircraft, like the Air Force does with its older C-130s, the service could return its early C-17s to Boeing, which would refurbish them for sale on the international market.
It is unclear in the current fiscal environment as global defense spending shrinks if a trade-out concept is even tenable. Over the past two decades, Boeing has successfully extended C-17 production six years, but this time the Pentagon is facing another $52 billion cut to its upcoming budget.
For the complete story by Marcus Weisgerber of DefenseNews.com, click here.