I don’t think it would take a rocket scientist to figure out I’m a fan of the Air Force’s C-17 airlifter. Indeed, I’m continuously stumped when trying to suss out why the Air Force has worked hard to stop buying them. The original programmed buy has always been for about 210 aircraft, but Congressional support for continuing buys has always been strong. In essence, Congress is offering the Air Force free airplanes (that is, money budgeted to C-17 buys wouldn’t be taken from other programs), but the Air Force keeps acting as if buying C-17s will cost them elsewhere.
There’s no such thing as too much airlift. If it were my choice, once the C-17 had its bugs worked out, I’d have doubled they buy to about 400 aircraft. As it is, the fleet is being used at MUCH higher tempos than had initially been projected. That means that airframe lifetime is being used faster and that maintenance costs are going to skyrocket. I think we’ll find in the long run that buying more jets up front would be cheaper than keeping the fleet flying in the out years. Unfortunately, fleet management hasn’t been much of an intellectual strength for any of the services lately (with the possible exception of the Army keeping the M1/M2/M3 fleet viable).
Anyway, all that is just an excuse to post this video.