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RAF prepares for 5th C-17

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The RAF has moved a step closer to taking delivery of its fifth C-17

transport aircraft following a ceremony at the Boeing facility at Long

Beach in California.


General Sir Kevin O'Donoghue, Chief of Defence Materiel, attended the

'Fly Away' ceremony for the UK's fifth C-17 aircraft, known as UK5. The

ceremony at Long Beach also included the 'major join' of UK6, which

involved joining the wings to the main body of the aircraft.


He then flew on UK5 to San Antonio, Texas, where the finishing touches

will be added, before it arrives at its final home of 99 Squadron, RAF

Brize Norton, in April 2008. UK6 is due to be delivered in June 2008.


Before departing for the ceremony, General O'Donoghue said:


"This is a significant milestone. A fifth C-17 will increase our

ability to transport troops and heavy equipment quickly to operations,

boosting vital military logistics capability. The aircraft's performance

and durability on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is outstanding."


Since entering service in mid-2001, the UK C-17 fleet has been

continuously employed in support of ongoing coalition operations,

routine tasking and humanitarian relief. The C-17 can carry the

equivalent of three Warrior armoured vehicles, thirteen Land Rovers, one

Chinook, or three Apache gunships. It enables the RAF to get the right

equipment to theatre rapidly.


As well as being able to carry loads of up to 75 tonnes and fly long

distances of up to 2,400 miles, the C-17's ability to land on unpaved

airfields in remote, land-locked regions make it a versatile transport

aircraft, equally suited for a variety of missions.


In July 2006 approval was given for procurement of the four C-17

aircraft at the end of the lease in 2008. An additional contract was

signed with Boeing in August 2006 for the procurement of a fifth C-17

aircraft. On 26 July 2007 the Secretary of State for Defence announced

the intention to procure a sixth C-17 aircraft to reinforce the air

bridge into current operations. The C-17 Project (Lease, Purchase and

Support) value is in the order of £2 billion.



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