Boeing has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to continue the sustainment of the US Air Force’s (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft fleet into the next decade.

The MoU was signed with the C-17 System Program Office (SPO) at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, on 21 August.

The US-based aerospace and defence company is the prime contractor for the Globemaster III Sustainment Program contract.

Under the contract, Boeing will provide programme management, technical data, field services, systems engineering, material and equipment management, maintenance and modifications, propulsion sustainment and other support services for the C-17 aircraft.

The contract also covers depot-level aircraft maintenance and round-the-clock base supply support for spares.

The current contract is due to expire in 2021. The MoU represents a commitment from Boeing and the C-17 SPO to work towards signing a follow-on contract for the fleet’s sustainment.

In a statement, the US Air Force said: “The event signified high-ranking leadership’s commitment toward streamlining acquisition processes and timelines with the aim of expeditiously awarding the follow-on contract, valued at $23.76bn, to maintain continuous sustainment coverage for the C-17 virtual fleet once the current contract expires, 1 October 2021.

“This groundbreaking event signifies the start of a new collaborative methodology between the US Government and the prime contractor.”

Boeing provides sustainment and maintenance to the worldwide C-17 fleet. In addition to the US, the aircraft is in service with the UK and other allied nations, including Australia, Canada, Kuwait, Qatar, India, and the UAE.

The Boeing-built long-haul aircraft can carry heavy payloads in challenging conditions. The company delivered the first production C-17 to the USAF in 1993.

According to the firm’s website, the USAF has a total of 223 C-17s.