LOS ANGELES – Boeing has delivered the final C-17 produced for the U.S. Air Force, more than two decades after the mammoth and versatile transport plane was rolled out as the Cold War wound down.
Military officials took delivery of the C-17 Globemaster III — the 223rd sold to the Air Force — during a ceremony Thursday attended by hundreds of workers at Boeing’s Long Beach, Calif., assembly plant.
“It was a long run with the U.S. military, and it was a good run,” said engineer Bob Grech, who joined the project 19 years ago.
The C-17 Globemaster III has been the workhorse aircraft at Joint Base Lewis-McChord since 1999. In fact, the cargo jet is the only aircraft flown by local active-duty and Reserve crews at the base south of Tacoma.
The bulbous-nosed jet is designed to fly longer, carry more and land on shorter runways than its predecessors.
The base’s fleet of C-17s has delivered supplies and service members to remote combat outposts, returned wounded and dead service members home, and made transports to natural disasters in places such as Haiti and Japan.
In March, McChord Field received its 49th and final C-17 from the Boeing plant in Long Beach, Calif.
At the time, Lt. Gen. Darren McDew acknowledged that America’s C-17 fleet has been put under heavy strain supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“But I have no reason to believe it can’t survive for another couple of decades,” said McDew, commander of the 18th Air Force.
After the ceremony, the Air Force’s final C-17 took off, en route to Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. – recreating the same flight the first production model took.