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Boeing to Continue C-17 Maintenance

by: Matthew Potter
October 5, 2011

Category: Boeing, BRAC, Business Line, California, Companies, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Department of Defense, Events, logistics, Military Aviation, Restructuring, Services, States, U.S. Air Force | RSS 2.0

The C-17 strategic transport aircraft made by Boeing (BA0 is one of the key systems supporting U.S. and Allied efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. relies on air lift from both military and contractor support aircraft to provide much of the supply to its forces especially in land locked Afghanistan. While a great deal of supplies flow though Pakistan on trucks that supply line has proven vulnerable to attack. The U.S. possession of a large number of transport aircraft like the C-17 and C-5 help avoid that vulnerability.

The U.S. is also winding down production of this system leading ultimately to the closure of the Long Beach, CA plant where they are made. Some Foreign Military Sales (FMS) efforts continue for countries like India, the U.A.E. and others but without significant new orders the facility which traces its history back through McDonnell and Douglas aircraft corporations will ultimately close.

Boeing, though, will continue to support the aircraft through the recent award of a contract to conduct maintenance and modifications for another ten years. The value of the award which is just a continuation of existing contracts is about $11.75 billion if all options are awarded. This makes it one of the largest contracts recently awarded by the U.S. military.

The U.S. Air Force as part of in-sourcing and cost reduction initiatives has looked at moving this kind of work back into their facilities which is a change from the trend of the last twenty years. In the Nineties as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) work a great deal of the large, aviation depots run by the military services were closed and the work turned over to contractors. This meant contracts like this one to either the OEM or third party Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) companies who would continue the support of fielded aircraft.

This award indicates that the Air Force’s analysis indicates that some contractor maintenance will still be needed. The contract calls for Boeing support at the Long Beach facility and at all bases where the C-17 is deployed. If the plant is closed once production ends Boeing could use one of its existing other facilities to handle the work on the C-17.

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