The agreement will provide support for the RAF’s fleet of eight C-17A Globemaster III aircraft

Defence Minister Guto Bebb said:

“Our C-17 giants take everything from heavy equipment to vital troops to where they’re needed right across the globe. This deal keeps them in the air into the next decade and affirms our leadership, alongside our American allies, in providing global security and humanitarian aid as we stand together in defence of our shared values.”

The MoD say that the deal will deliver spares, design services, reliability and maintenance improvements, access to technical resources, and RAF aircrew and maintenance crew training programmes.

It will sustain more than 50 jobs in the UK through the support of a Boeing team at RAF Brize Norton, the home of the UK’s C-17 operators, 99 Squadron RAF. Further work will be carried out in the US at Boeing facilities in San Antonio, Texas.

According to the MoD:

“The new agreement, which extends and builds upon support arrangements that have existed since the C-17 came into UK service in 2001, will run until 2022.

As part of the UK’s Joint Rapid Reaction Force, the C-17 provides the RAF with long-range strategic heavy-lift ability, meaning it can deliver equipment and supplies close to where UK troops are on operations. Support for the RAF’s C-17 fleet is delivering an important need laid out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015.”

Defence Equipment & Support Chief of Materiel (Air), Air Marshal Julian Young, said:

“The signature of this deal has come about through the close relationship the Ministry of Defence has with our counterparts in the US, and will deliver world-leading support for the front line.

It means the UK will be able to continue to depend on the C-17’s remarkable capabilities in support of operations all over the world.”


  1. RAF should have opted for a C17/C130 fleet rather than complicating the mix with A400M, but we are where we are.

    Airbus has already suffered €8bn write off on the A400M and will never sell enough aircraft to make it profitable.

    • Ideally the RAF (MOD) could have secured a 9th or even 10th C17 before production was stopped – I wonder if they were impressed enough with the A400 to make that unnecessary .I think that there are going to be a few A400’s available on the market very keenly priced as a few Air Forces have commited to more than they actually need/want should the RAF need any more.

    • Mike – So it should have kept a lower capacity at greater manning costs and stayed with basically a 30 year old design (C-130) and another that is no longer manufactured (C-17)?

      You do realise the wings for the A400M are made here in the UK along with every other wing for every Airbus aircraft? Let alone hundreds of other companies in the UK supplying systems for it? So I am not sure why you joyfully wish us to lose that work and export those jobs to the USA?

      ‘We are where we are’ because the A400M is the very best aircraft out there. Indeed its the ONLY viable aircraft out there. The C-130 has a limited capacity and an increasingly limited sphere of operations. The A400m is way ahead of the C-130 in lift capacity and can go where the C-17 can’t. I really do not understand how the A400M naysayers here cannot grasp that fact.

      That €8bn is an accumulated 10 year figure and the amount taken as a one-off charge last year was €1.3bn. Apart from which the financial problems caused by the development of the A400M within the overall profitability of Airbus are comparatively minor with overall sales of €66.8bn. It is actually irrelevant to its performance for the RAF which, as it happens, has found it to be everything (and more) for which they wished. And they are currently the biggest operator.

  2. £260 million to sustain 50 UK jobs, provide spares, and train crews.

    No wonder there is so little money for new kit and personnel. It costs so much to support equipment it seems.

    How much was a T31 Frigate?

    • It seems like a lot of money to service them until 2022 but I don’t know the first thing about the subject, so won’t pretend to (it’s prob no less than the government know either).
      I do think every time they are used in support for aid relief or our French cousins the money should be pulled from the FA budget as i doubt the French are paying much for our support.

      • It does say…

        “The MoD say that the deal will deliver spares, design services, reliability and maintenance improvements, access to technical resources, and RAF aircrew and maintenance crew training programmes.”

        I wonder how much of the £260m is provision for spares.

        It also says “well into the next decade”. 5 years? 10 years? Something in between? How long between complete engine refurbs? At 4 engines per plane I can imagine that costing a lot of money on its own if necessary in the timeframe of the contract.

        Also, 8 aircraft at let’s say 10 years for the contract is 80 aircraft-years for £260m. That’s £3.25m per aircraft per year. That doesn’t seem totally excessive to me, again assuming cost of spares is included and depending on what rate they are expected to chew through those spares.

          • The article states the deal runs until 2022, that’s 4 years not 10. The defense minister played on his words ‘This deal keeps them in the air INTO the next decade’ he did not say 10 years just that the deal takes us into the 2020’s.
            That takes the maintenance costs closer to £10 mm per year, I still have no idea if that’s good value or not just trying to present the information more clearly.

          • Thanks BB85. No idea how I missed the 2022 end date, or even more disturbing, where I got the “well into the next decade” quote from. I must have been hallucinating:-)

          • BB85 – Sorry but my fingers just had to reach for the calculator – 8 aircraft for 5 years (40 aircraft years) @ £260 Mn = £6.5 Mn / C-17 / Annum

          • I knew I was over estimating it although had to use my fingers to realise its 5 years and not 4 years, pretty embarrassing considering I work for a bank.

  3. The C17 is a tremendous force multiplier, we could probably use another 4.

    You can bet the Germans never acquire the 50 A400’s they signed for, big surprise there!

    Its what happens when you try to these things with European partners.

    Still, its an opportunity to pick up some more on the cheap, when Germany and Spain try to sell off unwanted aircraft straight off the production line!

  4. The deal covers “spares, design services, reliability and maintenance improvements, access to technical resources, and RAF aircrew and maintenance crew training programmes.”

    It costs the USAF US$23k per flying hour for a C17 so 10 hour flight would cost US$230k. Given the complexity of modern aircraft the costs donor seem unreasonable.

    The USAF B2 costs US$130k per hour, so 10 hour bombing mission cost over US$1m all that cost to take out ISIS pick up truck somewhere in Syria.


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