November 25, 2009


C 17 Globemaster 3

India wants to buy ten U.S. C-17 aircraft, to fill a need for strategic air transports. The main competition was the Russian Il-76, which mainly competed on price, at about $50 million each. The C-17, which costs at least three times as much, is also able to carry up to 86 tons. What the C-17 is best at is carrying about half that weight, half way around the world, non-stop. The C-17 is also easier to fly, and can also operate from short, primitive, air strips.

The C-17 is also easier to maintain, and more reliable. But a fuel-efficient Il-76, that can be refueled in the air, has a price that's tough to beat. The latest version, the Il-76MF, has a payload of 60 tons, and a cargo compartment that is 50 percent larger than earlier models. With a full load, the aircraft can fly 4,200 kilometers. Carrying 20 tons, it can go 8,500 kilometers.

The Indians have 41 Il-76s, and were apparently looking to step up. The C-17 has a good track record, several satisfied foreign customers, and is a follow on to the American contemporary of the Il-76, the C-141 (which is now retired.) The Indians are also getting tired of unreliable prices and maintenance policies typical of Russian equipment. As India buys more Western systems, they note that the total (lifecycle) cost of more expensive Western gear tends to be less, or nearly the same, as with comparable Russian models. Plus, the Western gear is more effective, which is very important for a weapons system.

Key Data

Permanently Installed Sidewall Seating 54 seats, 27 each side, width 18in, spacing 24in centre to centre Centerline Seats, Stored On-Board 48 seats, eight sets of six back-to-back
Palletised, Ten-Passenger Pallets 80 seats on eight pallets, plus 54 passengers on sidewall seats Litter (Medical Stretchers) Stations On-Board.
Three stations, three litters (stretchers) each Litter Stations, Additional Kit
Nine additional stations Total Capability, Contingency
36 litters, 54 ambulatory

Flight Crew Two

Full specifications

The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III military airlift aircraft is a high-wing, four-engine, T-tailed military transport vehicle capable of carrying payloads up to 169,000lb. It has an international range and the ability to land on small airfields. A fully integrated electronic cockpit and advanced cargo systems allow a crew of three; the pilot, co-pilot and loadmaster, to operate all systems on any type of mission.

Since it entered service in January 1995, 187 aircraft have been delivered to the US Air Force. In February 2009, a $2.95bn contract for the 15 additional C-17s will took the tally to 205 C-17s destined for the US Air Force by August 2010.

The UK Royal Air Force has six C-17s, which have, between them, flown more than 22 million nautical miles (25 million miles or 41 million kilometres) in their eight years of operations.
"The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III military airlift aircraft is capable of carrying payloads up to 169,000lb."

In August 2006, a fifth aircraft (delivered in April 2008) was ordered and the purchase of the first four aircraft in 2008 was confirmed. In December 2007, the UK purchased a sixth aircraft, aircraft which was delivered in June 2008.

In March 2006, Australia selected the C-17, with a requirement for four aircraft. The first aircraft was delivered in December 2006, the second in May 2007, the third in February 2008 and the final aircraft in March 2008.

In July 2006, Canada announced the selection of the C-17 with a requirement for four aircraft. The contract was signed in February 2007. Deliveries began in August 2007 and concluded in April 2008.

In September 2006, Nato announced its intention to buy an initial three or four C-17 aircraft. In June 2007, an international consortium, consisting of fifteen Nato countries plus two partner countries (Finland and Sweden), agreed to set up the strategic airlift capability (SAC) which will be based at Papa Air Base in Hungary.

A new Nato Airlift Management Organisation (NAMO) will purchase, own, and manage the aircraft. A multinational military unit, the heavy airlift wing (HAW), will conduct airlift operations. In May 2008, SAC requested the foreign military sale of the first two C-17 aircraft. Deliveries are planned to begin in spring 2009 and all three aircraft are to be delivered by the end of 2009. The SAC1 C-17's first flight is scheduled in June 2009,
In March 2007, Boeing announced that C-17 production would conclude in 2009, when current orders have been fulfilled. However the purchase of 15 additional aircraft for the USAF was approved in 2008.

In July 2008, Qatar placed an order for two C-17, to be delivered from mid-2009. The United Arab Emirates announced on 24 February 2009 that it will acquire four C-17s. There are currently 198 C-17s in service.

Flight-testing of the C-17 using a blend of synthetic fuel and JP-8 began in October 2007, as part of a USAF process to develop more-efficient fuel for its fleet, with less reliance on imported petrol. Certification for the aircraft powered by synthetic fuel was completed in February 2008.
Boeing has 687 suppliers in 43 states. Current orders will carry C-17 production till January 2011. Then it would need the support of the air force for any initial fielding of the advanced C-17 that is planned for 2015.

C-17 design

A propulsive lift system allows the C-17 to achieve safe landings on short runways. The C-17 is capable of landing a full payload in less than 3,000ft. The propulsive lift system uses engine exhaust to generate lift: the engine exhaust is directed onto large flaps, which extend into the exhaust stream, allowing the aircraft to fly a steep approach at a relatively low landing speed.
The aircraft is capable of turning in a small radius and can complete a 180° star turn in 80ft. The aircraft can also carry out routine backing. A fully loaded aircraft is capable of backing up a 2% gradient slope using the directed flow thrust reversers.


The C-17 cockpit accommodates pilot, co-pilot and two observer positions. The digital avionics system has four Honeywell multi-function cathode-ray tube displays, two full-capability HUDs head-up displays) plus cargo systems.

The quadruple-redundant electronic flight control system also has a mechanically-actuated backup system.There are two Lockheed Martin central processing computers, one Hamilton Sundstrand data management computer and two Honeywell air data computers.
A program to upgrade the C-17A avionics includes new mission computers and displays, new software for the warning and caution system, being provided by Northrop Grumman Navigation Systems. The automatic flight control system will be upgraded with BAE Systems Controls CsLEOS real-time operating system and will be certified for GATM (global air traffic management) system requirements.

Cargo systems

The design of the cargo compartment allows the C-17 to carry a wide range of vehicles, palleted cargo, paratroops, air-drop loads and aeromedical evacuees.The cargo compartment has a sufficiently large cross-section to transport large wheeled and tracked vehicles, tanks, helicopters (such as the AH-64 Apache), artillery, and weapons such as the Patriot missile system. Three Bradley armoured vehicles comprise one deployment load on the C-17. The US Army M1A1 main battle tank can be carried with other vehicles.

The maximum payload is 170,900lb (77,519kg) with 18 pallet positions, including four on the ramp. Airdrop capabilities include: single load of up to 60,000lb (27,216kg), sequential loads of up to 110,000lb (49,895kg), Container Delivery System (CDS) airdrop up to 40 containers, 2,350lb (1,066kg) each; up to 102 paratroops.

The aircraft is equipped for LAPES (low-altitude parachute extraction system) drops. For Medevac, the C-17 can transport up to 36 litter and 54 ambulatory patients and attendants. C-17s can take off from a 7,600ft airfield, fly 2,400nm and refuel while in flight. It can land in 3,500ft (1,064m) and 90ft-wide (27.4m) airstrip.


The C-17 is equipped with BAE Systems Integrated Defense Solutions (formerly Tracor) AN/ALE-47 countermeasure flare dispensers and the ATK AN/AAR-47 missile warning system.
AN/AAR-47 has a suite of surface-mounted thermal sensors around the aircraft, which detect the thermal signature of the missile exhaust plume. Frequency selection and signal processing techniques are used to minimise the false alarm rate. The system provides a warning to the crew via the cockpit indicator unit of the presence and direction of the missile threat. A signal is automatically sent to the ALE-47 dispenser.

AN/ALE-47 is capable of carrying a mix of expendable countermeasures, including jammers. The system interfaces to the C-17 aircraft's sensors. The aircrew can select the mode of operation of the dispenser for fully automatic, semi-automatic or manual operation.
The cockpit control unit can be used to input mission data, together with the numbers and types of expendable countermeasures systems loaded into the ALE-47. The cockpit controller updates and displays the status of the dispenser and the numbers and types of countermeasures remaining.

The ALE-47 is capable of dispensing the new-generation active expendable decoys, POET and GEN-X, in addition to the conventional chaff and flare decoys that are compatible with the previous-generation ALE-40 and ALE-39 dispensers."The C-17 has an international range and the ability to land on small airfields."56 USAF C-17 aircraft are being equipped with the Northrop Grumman large aircraft infrared countermeasures (LAIRCM) system.LAIRCM is based on the AN/AAQ-24(V) NEMESIS. It entered low-rate initial production in August 2002 and completed initial operational test and evaluation in July 2004. 25 upgraded aircraft have been delivered. The system is scheduled to enter service in 2007. The four aircraft leased by the UK RAF are fitted with LAIRCM.

Turbofan engines

The four Pratt & Whitney PW2040 (military designation-F117-PW-100) turbofan engines with 40,440lb thrust each are integrated in the wings. Engine thrust reversers, which are operable in flight, and speedbrakes enable the aircraft to carry out rapid deceleration and descent manoeuvres.The cruise speed is between Mach 0.74 and 0.77. The range without in-flight refuelling, and with a payload of 160,000lb, is 2,400nm. Aerial refuelling provides an intercontinental non-stop range.

Sidharth K Menon.[Defence and Intelligence Analyst]