In many ways, this was the kind of mission the C-17 was designed for. It was intended to bridge the gap between the giant strategic airlift provided by the C-5 Galaxy and the tactical C-130 Hercules. It was intended to lift heavy loads while being able to penetrate narrow and austere environments. It only needs 3,500 feet to land and can use its reverse thrusters to execute a three-point turn to get back up.
“C-17 is really flexible. When you look at the mission set, you can do this strategic airlift, the kind of long term passenger transport mission. It is also used for short exits and landings,” Okeson said. “I think it’s pretty amazing.”
There are 275 aircraft in operation by the US Air Force and international partners around the world.
“I will tell you that C-17 right now can last for a while. I expect it to be in inventory for many more years,” Okeson said. “There are plenty of legs left on this platform.”
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