Australia Buys Two C-17s

By James Drew / April 13, 2015 at 11:00 AM

As Boeing ends production of its C-17 Globemaster III in Long Beach, CA, Australia has announced the purchase of two more of the heavy-lift aircraft.

In an April 10 press statement, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the aircraft purchase, along with investments in associated equipment and facilities, totals $1 billion in new defense spending.

The Royal Australian Air Force owns six C-17s, and those aircraft have been supporting coalition operations in Iraq and responded to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine last year.

About $300 million will be spent upgrading facilities at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland, including the installation of a maintenance hangar and more tarmac surface to support heavy aircraft including the C-17 and Australia's KC-30 aerial refueling tanker, according to the press statement.

Boeing spokeswoman Tiffany Pitts said Australia introduced the C-17 in 2006.

"The C-17 remains unmatched in its ability to transport troops and heavy cargo, support airdrops and aeromedical evacuations, and land and takeoff in remote airfields," Pitts said in an April 9 email.

The C-17 entered service with the U.S. Air Force in 1993 and today the service has more than 200 in its strategic airlift fleet.

Boeing's C-17 production plant is due to close this summer. Australia's two new aircraft have already been assembled.