TYPE: Strategic transport.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States of America.
POWERPLANTS: Four 181.0kN (40,700lb) Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofans.
PERFORMANCE: Normal cruising speed at 28,000ft Mach 0.77, max cruising speed at low altitude 648km/h (350kt) CAS. Airdrop speed at sea level 215 to 465km/h (115 to 250kt) CAS. Max ferry range 8705km (4700nm). Operational radius with a 36,785kg (81,000lb) payload and a 975m (3200ft) TO, land in 823m (2700ft), takeoff again with a similar payload in 853m (2800ft) - 925km (500nm). Unrefuelled range with a 68,040kg (150,000lb) payload, a 2320m (7600ft) TO run and a 885m (2900ft) landing - 5000km (2700nm).
WEIGHTS: Target operating empty 122,015kg (269,000lb), target max takeoff 265,352kg (585,000lb), peacetime takeoff 263,083kg (580,000lb).
DIMENSIONS: Wing span over winglets 51.76m (169ft 10in), length 53.04m (174ft Oin), height 16.79m (55ft 1in). Wing area 353m2 (3800.0sq ft).
ACCOMMODATION: Flightcrew of two, plus loadmaster. Max payload 76,657kg (169,000lb) can comprise standard freight pallets, air droppable pallets, 100 passengers on seating pallets, 48 stretcher patients, or 75 troops on temporary fuselage side and centreline seats, or 102 paratroops, 4WD vehicles, an M1A1 Abrams MBT plus other vehicles, and up to three AH-64 Apaches.
HISTORY: Highly expensive and highly controversial, the C-17 airlifter suffered a prolonged and often troublesome development, but in service is proving to be highly reliable and very versatile. The USAF selected the McDonnell Douglas C-17 to meet its C-X requirement for a heavy airlifter in August 1981. The C-X requirement called for a transport capable of strategic missions, with good STOL performance from semi prepared strips, good ground manoeuvrability and a voluminous cargo hold capable of accommodating attack helicopters and the M1 Abrams main battle tank. The original C-17 full scale development contract was cancelled in 1982 and replaced with low priority development. The first flying prototype was ordered in late 1985 while the first production contract was signed in January 1988. First flight was on September 15 1991. The C-17 is of conventional military freighter configuration with a high wing, T tail and rear loading freight ramp. Power is supplied by four Pratt & Whitney F117 turbofans, developments of the commercial PW2000 series used for the Boeing 757 airliner. Notable design features include fly-by-wire flight controls (the first on a US transport aircraft), a two crew glass cockpit with HUDs, externally blown flaps and STOL performance equivalent to the C-130's. At late 1995 40 of the planned total of 120 C-17s had been ordered. In November 1995 the USAF elected to procure the remaining 80 C-17s following evaluation of the C-33 (Boeing 747-400F) and improved C-5D as alternatives. At the time of writing this decision had yet to be passed by Congress.