C-5s May Be Sacrificed For C-17s

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The Air Force may retire up to 30 C-5 Galaxy aircraft in favor of boosting the order for the more modern and generally more versatile C-17. The Air Force currently has 190 C-17s on order but Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, chairman of the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee, told GovExec.com that the administration’s plan to boost the permanent number of Army and Marine personnel will result in a corresponding need for more airlift capability. But rather than buy more C-17s at the expense of other government programs (like healthcare and education), Inouye says he’d rather cut other defense programs, and the C-5s are the prime target. Inouye said he believes it will be cheaper in the long run to buy new C-17s (at $200 million each) than to continue upgrading the Galaxies. But, like every decision of this magnitude, politics is a major consideration. C-17 manufacturer Boeing has said it will start shutting down the C-17 line in the absence of new orders for the aircraft. While the planes are assembled in Long Beach, Calif., parts are made in more than 40 states, creating an enormous political ripple if they go out of production.