Pentagon defense plan forecasts end to Boeing-made C-17s

Saturday, February 4, 2006

WASHINGTON -- A Pentagon defense review Friday forecast shutting down C-17 production after the completion of the 180 planes currently planned, despite congressional objections to such a move when it became public several months ago.

The C-17 is manufactured by Chicago-based Boeing Co. at a California plant. The Long Beach plant employs more than 6,000 workers.

With the last of the 180 C-17s scheduled for delivery in 2008, production would start to wind down soon.

The report prompted complaints on Capitol Hill.

, where the C-17 has many defenders.

After reports of the Pentagon's plans became public in November, Congress in its 2006 defense bill authorized the Air Force to build an additional 42 C-17s and told the Defense Department to look at different criteria in assessing the need for more lift aircraft.

"The Air Force had identified a need for additional C-17 aircraft, and given the aircraft's' outstanding performance in providing airlift support for both war time and humanitarian missions, I think we should be building more C-17s, not killing this important program," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. "Mothballing the line is a waste of taxpayer money, and I am working with my colleagues to see that the C-17 line stays open."

More details on the fate of the C-17 will become clear on Monday, when the Pentagon report will be sent to Capitol Hill with President Bush's proposed $439 billion Pentagon budget for 2007.

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