ST. LOUIS --- In a ceremony at its award-winning assembly facility in Long Beach, Calif., Boeing today delivered the first of eight new Boeing C-17 Globemaster III airlifters to the Mississippi Air National Guard. The airplanes will be part of the National Guard’s 172nd Airlift Wing, based in Jackson.
With today’s delivery of the 116th operational C-17, the Air National Guard becomes one of three operators of the aircraft, joining the U.S. Air Force and the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force. The remaining seven Mississippi Air National Guard C-17s will be delivered in the first half of 2004.
“This is a proud moment for the state of Mississippi in that we are the only Air National Guard unit in the United States to receive the C-17,” said Col Maurice T. Brock, Wing Commander, 172nd Airlift Wing. “Regardless if it is a wartime, humanitarian or peacetime mission, the C-17 is the first choice to be utilized.”
The Mississippi Air National Guard named today’s delivery aircraft “The Spirit of the Mississippi Minutemen,” in honor of a small hand-picked elite force which were required to be highly mobile and able to assemble quickly – a force in Mississippi that is now the National Guard.
“The C-17 will provide the Air National Guard unparalleled capabilities and opportunities as the world’s only airlifter capable of both strategic and theater operations,” said Dave Bowman, vice president and C-17 program manager, for Boeing.
Thousands of Boeing employees joined Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force and elected dignitaries for today’s celebration, which marked two other major milestones: the 100th consecutive C-17 delivered ahead of contract schedule, and the 100th anniversary of the historic Wright brothers flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C.
“We have 100 reasons to celebrate,” said Howard Chambers, vice president and general manager, Integrated Defense Systems-Long Beach. “But we have thousands of people to thank for making this day happen – all the men and women who put this airplane together. It’s their dedication every day that makes this celebration possible.”
In addition to the new C-17 based in Jackson, C-17s are based at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.; McChord Air Force Base, Wash.; and Altus Air Force Base, Okla., where initial aircrew training occurs. Between now and 2007, new C-17 units will be established at the McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., and March Air Reserve Base, Calif. In addition, C-17s are based at RAF Brize-Norton in the United Kingdom.
Boeing currently is on a multi-year production contract to design, build and deliver 180 C-17s to the U.S. Air Force through 2008. This year, the C-17’s quality-based culture has been recognized for performance excellence by the states of California, Missouri and Georgia. Last month, the C-17’s program received an unprecedented top “level five” rating in all four disciplines of the Capability Maturity Model Integration by the nationally recognized Software Engineering Institute. The C-17 team is the largest organization worldwide to earn such a rating.
With more than 500,000 flight hours, the C-17 fleet has literally changed the face of combat, flying strategic ranges and landing on tactical airfields, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. With a payload of 160,000 pounds, the C-17 can take off from a 7,600-foot airfield, fly 2,400 nautical miles, and land on a small, austere airfield in 3,000 feet or less.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Integrated Defense Systems is one the world’s largest space and defense businesses. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $25 billion business. It provides systems solutions to its global military, government and commercial customers. It is a leading provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; the world’s largest military aircraft manufacturer; the world’s largest satellite manufacturer and a leading provider of space-based communications; the primary systems integrator for U.S. missile defense; NASA’s largest contractor; and a global leader in launch services