The final Boeing C-17 Globemaster III military transport flew from the manufacturer’s Long Beach production facility early this week. The aircraft, destined for the Qatar Emiri Air Force, is the 279th C-17 to roll off the line at Long Beach, and with its delivery, aircraft production at the facility will end.
The C-17 was originally designed and built by McDonnell Douglas (which merged with Boeing in 1997), for the US Air Force, with the first unit built in 1991. As it became apparent that the Air Force had a limited need for the type, Boeing and the Air Force embarked on a campaign to offer the transport to the US’ military allies, as well as to the commercial world.
The first part of that campaign had some success, with fifty C-17 now taken by Australia, Canada, India, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, and the UK, as well as NATO. However, the attempt to sell the C-17 as a commercial transport failed entirely, and in 2013 Boeing announced that, with no more orders in sight, it would build ten more units on spec, then cease production.
Of those ten, Boeing has now sold five, while five remain as whitetails. Perhaps they will find buyers, or perhaps not, but one thing that is certain is that after seventy years of continuous aircraft production, the curtain has come down on the Long Beach facility.
Below are several more photos, but first, a video of a C-17 landing and then taking off again from a gravel strip.