May 03, 2021

Master of the Globe

On a chilly January morning, Airmen piled into C-17 tail No. 99205 at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., and took off for a rendezvous with history. Not long after takeoff, the jet joined up with a KC-46 Pegasus tanker and logged the 4 millionth flying hour for the unique airlift, a plane that began as a case study for acquisition failure and transformed, over nearly three decades, into the backbone of U.S. military airlift. 

“This is a significant milestone for the program,” said Col. Scott Ekstrom, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center C-17 System Program Manager. “It is truly a testament to the dedication and hard work that has gone into producing and keeping the C-17 fleet operational and effective over the years. It has been a team effort, everyone who has supported the C-17 fleet should take pride in this milestone.”

The Air Force’s 222 C-17s are the major portion of a global fleet of 275 aircraft flown by nine nations, including an international consortium. They are the go-to airframe to transfer personnel and materiel to combat zones and remote locales around the world, enduring conditions from dirt airstrips in the Syrian desert to ice and snow in Antarctica. 

Today, Air Mobility Command (AMC) anticipates keeping “the Moose” relevant out to around 2060, while it develops requirements for a “family of systems” that someday will replace it.