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Despite End of C-17 Production Boeing Still Generating Revenue

The C-17 has been the standard strategic transport for the U.S. Air Force for the last two days. Flying alongside the much smaller C-5 fleet it has flown thousands of missions carrying cargo and passengers in support of Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress and the Air Force decided to end production for the Air Force a few years ago although there are still some open Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases and hopefully a few more remaining. Even so the C-17 will remain in U.S. service for several more years.

Despite the lack of production orders Boeing (BA) is still able to generate revenue from the platform through maintenance, retrofit and service contracts with the American defense department. They were just awarded a ten year contract for software, hardware and weapon system upgrades worth almost $900 million.

In most cases these days the military rarely buys full data rights to a weapon system due to the prohibitive costs involved. This means that many times the OEM receives the bulk of the support and sustainment contracts. In the end these can easily dwarf the value of the production contract.

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