18 November 2014
C-17 Globemaster strategic transport aircraft (photo : Aus DoD)
A requested sale of four Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft to Australia has been approved by the US government, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 12 November.
The sale, which is valued at USD1.6 billion, includes three spares engines, AN/AAQ-24V Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) and AN/AAR-54 Missile Warning Sensor systems (one set per aircraft), as well as other communications and navigation equipment.
The Royal Australian Air Force already operates six C-17s and this sale would "further improve Australia's capability to deploy rapidly in support of global coalition operations and also greatly enhance its ability to lead regional humanitarian and peacekeeping operations", the DSCA said.
No timeline for the delivery of the aircraft was given in the notification, but with the production line set to shut down in mid-2015 and a number of unassigned 'white-tail' aircraft already built and awaiting a customer, the waiting time should not be too long.
In placing its order for four more C-17s, Australia has secured a large proportion of the final aircraft to roll off the production line. Having announced the closure of the line in 2013, Boeing built 12 additional aircraft, dubbed 'white-tails', in the expectation that customers would be found.
Having delivered 258 C-17s to date - Australia (6), Canada (4), India (5), Kuwait (1), NATO and the Partnership for Peace nations (3), Qatar (4), the United Arab Emirates (6), the United Kingdom (8), and the United States (221) - Boeing has just five more contracted aircraft set to be delivered to India, plus a further one that is expected for Kuwait.
With this Australian order there remain eight white-tails on the line. India has previously stated that it would like a further six aircraft, while Algeria and the UK have also expressed interest in acquiring aircraft.