The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has signed an agreement with Boeing for the acquisition of an additional C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter for the UK Royal Air Force (RAF).
The C-17 procurement plans were unveiled by the MoD in February 2012, following the Defence Select Committee report into Libyan operations that said the nation would face difficulties in mounting another operation on a similar scale in the wake of extensive defence cuts.
UK Ministry of Defence Head of Commercial for Air Support Robin Philip said the teamwork of Boeing and the US government helped the acquisition to proceed so quickly after the nation determined the need for an additional aircraft.
Boeing vice president and C-17 programme manager Bob Ciesla said the aircraft has supported the RAF’s global peacekeeping missions and natural disaster relief efforts worldwide over the past decade.
The airlifter will be operated by 99 Squadron at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, to further extend support for Operation Herrick, the transport of British armed forces and equipment between the UK and Afghanistan.
Currently being built by Boeing in the US, the £200m aircraft is scheduled to be delivered to the air force in late 2012.
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a large military transport aircraft designed to conduct rapid strategic airlift of troops and palleted cargo to main operating bases or forward operating bases throughout the world.
The C-17 airlifter can be configured to perform tactical airlifts, medical evacuation and airdrop missions as well as to help with humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.
The aircraft is also widely operated by the air forces of the US, Australia, India, Canada, Qatar, UAE and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of Nato and Partnership for Peace nations.
Image: UK Royal Air Force’s seventh C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter aircraft. Photo: Boeing.