The retirement of the C-17 transport aircraft could be brought forward, or extended, as part of the Integrated Review.

The ‘Integrated Review’, to give it its full title the ‘Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy’ is effectively a defence review. The review was previously described by Boris Johnson as the largest review of its kind since the Cold War and will be published later this month.

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, stated in response to a written Parliamentary question regarding the retirement date of the C-17 fleet:

“The out of service date for the C-17 aircraft is currently set for 2040 but is subject to the Integrated Review.”

The Royal Air Force website describes the C-17 in the following way:

“The C-17 Globemaster III (Globemaster C-17) is a longrange, heavy-lift strategic transport aircraft that can operate close to a potential area of operations for combat, peacekeeping or humanitarian missions worldwide.

C-17 is capable of rapid, strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases anywhere in the world.  The Globemaster’s load-bearing rear ramp and digitally controlled loading systems, combined with the skills of its crews and ground handlers, enable large, complex items of equipment, including Chinook helicopters, military vehicles and other heavy items of specialist kit to be loaded.”

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It would be utter madness if the C17s get scrapped before their time.


They should go back and look at the reasons why the C17s and large RoRo ships were acquired.

Captain P Wash

C17, Wildcat, Challenger 2, Type 23’s, 10 thousand Soldiers……. whatever next ?

Trevor G

Funny how all the kite flying involves potential cuts to the sharp end, never in Whitehall. Perhaps in future we will be able to deter aggressors with a sharply worded memo.

Robert Blay

You will find thousands of Whitehall jobs have been cut over the years, and government as a whole is far smaller then it once was.


C2 upgrade with new turret will happen I think. A solution to the Warrior IFV will be found without upgrading them. I sense a trend to reduced types. E.g. future IVF will be an Ajax or Boxer variant. The FAA Wildcat AH1 may go and be replaced by more Merlins with Martlet and Sea Venom. Could more A400M replace both C130 and C17 if they had refuelling? Could the Wildcat AH1 be stripped down and replace the AAC Gazelles or could they be modified to host Brimstone to augment the Apaches? There are opportunities to cut costs and increase flexibility… Read more »


I would be completely shocked if we replaced the Turret on the C2. If money it tight it makes no sense at all. Just upgrade the optics, digital architecture and add APS and get it done in 2 or 3 years rather than 10.
Warrior is bound to be at risk of a cull with additional boxer ordered in its place.


Isn’t there an issue with choosing Boxer to replace Warrior in that it would need a development project to fit the 40mm CTA gun to which I think we are contractually committed. Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to create an IFV version of Ajax? How long would this take; could Warrior run on a bit longer?


There is no reason the turrets could not be integrated on boxer modules with minimum fuss. I don’t know why the mod signed the contract for the turrets when they had not even completed testing at the time especially with the delays over the last 10 years. The main issue with warrior now is the hulls are knackered I just don’t think it’s worth investing over £1.7 bn in 250 IFVs that only have 15 years left in their service life.


Agreed. Especially as Boxer has the same level of armour protection as Warrior from what I understand.
Also, if we go with that approach, when the army (hopefully) starts building out at a later date again, the turreted Boxers can go to Strike and the AI can get a tracked IFV again, if that’s what they really need.


So the smart would be to manage with Warrior IFV as is until this turret integration is done.


Just lose the gun and IFV type. Controversial but not as bad as alternative of losing MBTs. I dont know how bad the Warrior hulls are but the turret upgrade is apparantly chaotic. An Ajax IFV variant, if possible, makes far more sense but Boxer as an APC (please dont fk it up trying to create an IFV with next to no dismounts – the purpose of an inf carrier!). Chally2 I’d go big on an upgrade as a future replacmeent is a long way away, whereas WR can be replaced by Ajax/Boxer now or soon. Also slow down or… Read more »


Ares fitted with the 40mm CTC turret. Warrior hulls are shagged and some have developed weak points/cracks. 130 more Ares bought, remaining turrets to Strike Boxers.


Is there even an option to obtain more Merlins, I know the Italians are selling a modified and updated version with US engines and Italian name, but is it available in any other form, or do we try to obtain second hand ones. Seems to be an MOD sell to buy sale.


I think more new build Merlins would be possible if we really wanted. But I agree its more likely we would try to make do with what we have or put them on ebay.


Merlin has been looked @ as a replacement for the Puma, and a question was asked about a new build, issue seems loss of skills @ UK factories. and if the current fleet can be stretched to meet the Future medium lift projects. Airbus offered up a unit, But UKgovs not happy with Airbus for some reason.


Great wishlist, but untill the country recovers from the economic downtown due to covid, hardly seems right if we are cutting our foreign aid to then spend £Bs on weapons. CH2+ Will allow 50% of the fleet to be upgraded to get thru to end of life and a new design, other 50% will be mothballed. Warrior upgrade is it required now, with the other new ARFV do we need the cost of the warrior with boxer and ajax, Warrior is now too late and missed its purpose. WILDCAT serves the smaller frigates once they go Wildcat is also redundant.… Read more »

Matt C

“hardly seems right if we are cutting our foreign aid to then spend £Bs on weapons”

If one looks at the matter analogously from a personal point of view, it is akin to giving to charity while cutting one’s safety insurance and scrimping on home protection. What nonsense.


And there want a Global Britain.

Sceptical Richard

A400M is a tactical transport. It can do strategic stuff but not as well as C17, obviously. C17 cannot do the tactical stuff as well as A400M. They complement each other well. If anything should go it should be the C130J, except that the special boys like them.


And getting rid of some of the C130J won’t really make much difference as it’s the fleet service and support contracts that saves the big money.


I thought the plan was the A400 would replace the C130J, but I thought they cut the numbers of A400 ordered which meant prolonging the service life of C130.

Who knows, either way C17 won’t be going anywhere before the next defense review in 2030.


Agreed, the C17 production line only closed down a short while ago, there is not even a whiff of a proposed replacement for the type. The C17 is one thing we simply couldn’t do with out. Its importance is highlighted by the fact the French requested our assistance because they do not posess a heavy lift capability……..


C130Js unit costs means it gets the dirty work, where risking a A400M is not good practice.

wont risk a A400m over A C130J

RAF WANTS A SINGLE PRODUCER as it reduces service costs…


If you are an island and depend upon air or sea transport to deploy, heavy lift aircraft like the C17 are a must have asset.


If the UK Government did retire the RAF C-17A fleet early I’d image that all the other C-17A users would want to get hold of some.

I’m sure the Government here in Australia would be interested, we did well at the last UK ‘fire sale’ picking up RFA Largs Bay (HMAS Choules) for a cheap price!



Hi John
Keep your eyes open , the way things are going the other 3 could be available soon
Cheers Ian


Hi Ian,

Well maybe one more for the RAN and the other two for the Kiwis!!

On a serious note, the UK Government would be completely mad to get rid of the RAF C-17A fleet early, but if they did, I’d imagine the other global users would be lining up to buy some, including the RAAF.



… and then we would rent them back no doubt.


If anything else is cut we might as well scrap the entire military bar a handful of air defence fighters for our airspace for all the use they are going to be. Complete waste of money to just wave a flag with absolutely no capability to actually achieve anything.

captain p wash

Probably at least 3 more SDR’s before we get to that…… unless the Green Party get in.

Robert Blay

We have lots of capability Mark.


The article doesn’t actually mention a likely or probable early retirement, it just discusses a possible change of date – could be earlier or later. They were rushed into service for Afghan and have seen alot of service. It wasn’t so long ago that we were considering more before they went out of production. However, if we are serious about ever deploying heavy equipment as part of Global Britain, these birds are essential. The French relied upon us a few years ago to fly their kit to Africa! An earlier OOS date could be 2035 in which case the oldest… Read more »

Trevor W Hogg

I think you will find the C17 was not rushed in for Afghanistan but actually arrived at Brize in the Jun 2001. Long before we entered Iraq II or Afghanistan. I was at Brize working in the Commcen when one from the US AirForce was brought in for a look around. 99 Sqn was standing up at the time.

Peter S

The 10 year equipment plan,even though boosted by£16b over the next 4 years is still forecast to have a multi-billion shortfall.
There is no funding included for Ch2 or artillery upgrades, more than 3 Type26, more than 48 F35s or modernising minesweeping.
Scrapping Warrior upgrade could free up @£1.7b. There seems to be a commitment to maintain upgraded Ch2 and that would cover it.
But to fund other ambitions, something big needs to go.
I can’t see the LPDs or all the current RAF transport fleet surviving.

Peter S

Correction. In the 2019 plan, Ch2 upgrade is mentioned alongside Ajax,Warrior and Boxer. No detail of amount included is listed in the NAO comment on major projects. It ought to be simple to publish a list/ spreadsheet (shades of Hammond)showing what major items are to be bought,when and for how much.
Oddly, there is £14m for F18 pilot training. I assume this a typo?
It is clear the NAO doesn’t believe aspects of the plan,in particular the big numbers assumed from efficiency savings. If the NAO is right,the 10 year shortfall could be £20b bigger.

Levi Goldsteinberg

Get rid of the C17s and (bar the Chinooks) our air force will be as toothless as France’s. Terrible decision making if that comes to pass

Robert Blay

The out of service date may well be extended. As the article states. Every single bit of equipment is under review in a defence review, hence the name. It doesn’t mean everything that is mentioned in articles like these means cuts. Websites like these need reader’s, so they publish posts they think will get plenty of comments. Take it all with a very large pinch of salt.

Daniele Mandelli

Exactly. Where has it said that these are being cut ? The comments are amazing.

Robert Blay

I kinda blame the website for sharing these ‘sensationalist ‘ type stories just to drum up comments.

Captain P Wash

You’ve only just noticed ?

Robert Blay

? least they didn’t mention the SNP in this story.

Captain P Wash

True but you can always bank on someone mentioning it !

Robert Blay

I’m sure some just go straight to the comments, and don’t even read the article ?

Captain P Wash

Some just come to Troll those who contribute !

Captain P Wash

It doesn’t, it says ” Subject to the Integrated Review ” Most of the comments are based around the possibility of cuts, not only to C17’s but all the other assets mentioned here and in other places.


Just retire everything and surrender. LMAO!

James Fennell

1998 SDSR came right after Bosnia and envisioned our ability to deploy two major peace support operations simultaneously anywhere. Various enablers were purchased for that objective including C-17, C-130J, Sentinel, Voyager, more Chinook, the Albions and Bays, the Sea Centurions, Waves and of course F-35 and the two carriers.. Elsewhere cuts were made to numbers of the old Germany/Atlantic centred NATO force – fast jets, ASW aircraft, helicopters, destroyers, air defence missiles and frigates, SSNs, tactical nuclear weapons, heavy armour and so on. Of course we used that capability often. Sierra Leone, Kosovo, and then of course in Iraq and… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by James Fennell
John Clark

I agree with you James, some winners, some loosers, but let’s not get stuck in the past. Project Tempest ( manned and ucav) offers massive hope for future Air warfare, with obviously some thoughts going in to harness this potential with potential QE class cats and traps upgrades in the coming years. Some radical high tech changes for the RAF to come. C17 and A400 are at the very core of expeditionary warfare, if anything, I would expect numbers of A400 to increase and C130 sacrificed by 2030. MBT’s look to be the biggest loss to me, with a drawdown… Read more »

Peter S

I wish there were more money but as I’ve noted the extra£16 b is included in the 10 year plan and still leaves a huge funding gap. At least defence is now ring fenced, but that’s as good as it gets. You rightly stress the 1998 defence review as the foundation of much of our current structure and equipment. 20 years later we are still waiting for some of that equipment to become operational. In an era where you fight with what you have,these timescales are a massive danger. The lower emphasis on ASW is perhaps the biggest risk of… Read more »


Ridiculous, who the hell can predict how world will be in 2040?

Captain P Wash

Nostradamas ? …… Oh hang on, he only got to 2021.


I think I’m right in saying that C17 is the only airframe in the RAF fleet capable of transporting Ajax or Boxer. A400 can carry Warrior…and I think the proposed upgraded Warrior. If C17 was released then you are painted into the Warrior upgrade corner. Stop Warrior upgrade and you have to retain C17….or come up with replacement…….and renting AN family airframes ad-hoc doesn’t cut it from a crisis mobilisation risk perspective IMHO. I’m sure the force multiplier effect of C17 will see it retained to facilitate rapid crisis response deployment globally….even a case for increasing the fleet to support… Read more »


Carriage of armoured vehicles by air is so rare and niche as a requirement it simply wont be a factor in a decision.


Another, possible capability retirement story to get everybody in a lather. I prefer actual news rather than third hand speculation, so will wait for the review to be published. ?‍♂️

Sean Crowley

Guys on this website have been pretty astute when it comes to predicting decisions of defense assets being cut , so would not dismiss them out of hand . Also not comfortable with you using Sean as it detracts from the inherit competence one associates with the name .


Yes I recall the constant predictions of the carriers being sold off… right up to the surprise extra £16 billion for defence announced in November.

Well you managed to get one thing right for a change, the name Sean is associated with competence, with you being the exception that proves the rule, over and over again…

Mark F

I’m getting fed up with this drip drip drip coming out of the MOD. Why don’t the government throw all our capabilities into one big bin as a lucky dip and then get Joe public to pull a couple out and get rid of the rest. I’m done with this crap to be honest.


I don’t think it’s coming from the MOD, I think it’s just journalists making up copy. Easier to do than actual reporting, which seems so rare in the modern media.

Mark F

Journos would have a clue what a C17 is they would have put up a photo a Lancaster.


Cannot imagine C17 would go. Proven, by far the most capable and (cost) effective. It is suffering from age and reducing availability, but still better than the piece of crap that is A400.

Lengthening OSD makes sense and simply keep them and tie into whatever the US replaces them (and upgraded C5s) with.

Reducing flying hours is essential to that as we are fleet leaders, so 1-2 airframes rotated through storage to acheive that might be an option.

Michael Hannah

If they take it out of service early, what will replace it. This decision hardly squares with the stated intention of an ultra modern rapidly deplorable armed forces.
The EU equivalent is not half as capable and begs the question, why are we procuring it ?


Every Element of the Armed Forces is under review, with Money being wasted for the sake of it, Painting Lamposts the councils used to call it, use it or lose it.. But in a Global Crisis, no country is going to be in a position to spend unless its feeding Money into is own people.

all very well having a future capability then for some reason cannot be used. great having 30+types of truck or Tanks when maybe. cleaning the board of failed upgrades an existing, “warrior” is like BAEs Nimrod.

leaner and meaner

Mark F

The C17 will not be scrapped the fleet of 8 were part of a production run for the USAF and are also maintained and upgraded with the USAF schedule. The fleet are undergo heavy maintenance by Boeing the licenced holder of the aircraft.
The Fleet are owned by the MOD under smart procurement and are primarily used as trucks and are not used in any tactical sense.
I have heard that they have the highest hours on the airframe than any other from the entire build run but they are certainly not knackered.