Despite earlier speculation, the Ministry of Defence have confirmed that there are “no plans” to reduce the size of the Royal Air Force fleet of C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft.

The information came to light after a written question was submitted in Parliament.

Tobias Ellwood, Chair of the Defence Committee, asked via a written Parliamentary question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether he has plans to reduce the size of the fleet of RAF C-17 transport planes.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, responded:

“There are no plans to reduce the C-17 Globemaster fleet from its current size of eight aircraft.”

Quin had said previously in response to a 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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John Hartley
John Hartley
19 days ago

I suspect the hard used first four RAF examples will need a major revamp/overhaul. Boeing has a set up to do this on early USAF examples.

John N
John N
18 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

My understanding is that every five years a C-17A returns to Boeing for a ‘six month’ heavy maintenance strip down and rebuild.

This is what happens with the RAAF fleet, here in Australia the Government originally ordered four aircraft for delivery starting in 2006.

When the first aircraft was due to return to the US in 2011, the Government here in Oz ordered a 5th, shortly after a 6th was ordered, eventually another two were ordered to bring the RAAF fleet to eight.

I would assume the RAF follows the same maintenance schedule too.

Cheers,

Mark F
Mark F
18 days ago
Reply to  John N

Yes you are correct the Royal Air Force examples came off the USAF production line slot and are subject to the same upgrades and major overhauls. The first 4 were worked hard but the airframes are good. RAF C17 are used for strategic lift and not tactical so no stress on the airframe.

heroic
heroic
19 days ago

How many do we have ?

John Hartley
John Hartley
19 days ago
Reply to  heroic

8

heroic
heroic
19 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

If they cut 4 though, surely we could keep going ? it’s not like we have struggled since everything else has been cut by half.

Last edited 19 days ago by heroic
John Hartley
John Hartley
19 days ago
Reply to  heroic

The RAF wanted 12. They only got 8. The rest of Europe only has 3. Trouble is that Army vehicles keep getting heavier/bigger. Some wont even fit in an A400M. Plus if you want to move medium to large helicopters in a hurry, you need C-17. If you look at how the USAF rebuilt/re engined C-5 to keep them going, I think the RAF will want C-17 for a long time to come, as no replacement is being built anywhere. If Boeing launches a new mid size airliner, there is a chance that a Rolls Royce Ultrafan might be available… Read more »

heroic
heroic
19 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Could we not sell 4 to Europe then ? that way we get to save money and RR get to sell engines and the RAF get to buy more A400’s.

Steve
Steve
19 days ago
Reply to  heroic

Why would we want to do that, the c17 are significantly bigger than the a400m and therefore can carry stuff that the a400m can’t. We should be looking to increase out air frames not reduce them

Bob
Bob
19 days ago
Reply to  heroic

Why would we want more A400s? Less capable and stupidly expensive aircraft aren’t going to help.

Steve
Steve
18 days ago
Reply to  Bob

The A400m isn’t less capable, it just fills a different role. The c17 can’t do tactical landing while the A400m can. On the flip side the c17 can carry more gear. Ideally you want a balance between the two, probably with more a400m as tactical landings require mass of troops and therefore lots of planes, to be effective outside special forces missions.

Bob
Bob
18 days ago
Reply to  Steve

C17 can do tactical landings. A400m is neither fish nor fowl and the money spent had given us a ludicrously expensive Hercules replacement that’s not proportionately more capable. I

In terms of raw capacity, it would have been cheaper to buy more Hercules to match the A400m capacity and the savings could be used for something else.

Steve
Steve
18 days ago
Reply to  Bob

I stand corrected, I had read it couldnt. In which case we should have brought more. In a realistic war situation you want to get your troops and gear on the land as fast as possible, whilst any radar etc gaps remain open, more you can pile into one plane has to be more effective, although I guess more risky with all eggs in one basket. In the end, it’s lucky we got what we got. If whoever was behind the rental agreement hadn’t pushed for it, the MOD wouldn’t have realised how useful they were and we wouldn’t have… Read more »

Last edited 18 days ago by Steve
dan
dan
18 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

They know they can keep their heavy lift numbers very low because America will provide the majority of the lift like they’ve always done. Not too mention only the US operates an oversized heavy lift aircraft in the C-5B/Ms. If those aren’t available then European nations have to lease/rent out AN-124s which isn’t cheap or ideal since they are manned by non NATO crews. When the bullets start flying you want your own crews in the aircraft especially if lives are depending on that cargo.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
18 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

I wonder if a frequent load for C17s ever has been large and heavy AFVs, as it can surely only carry one CR2 or 2-3 Ajax. If 4 airframes (of 8) were available it would take forever to shift a Brigade Combat Team, with all its AFVs and soft-skinned B vehicles, plus all the other kit and caboodle.

Harry Bulpit
Harry Bulpit
18 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

You would never air lift an armoured brigade. Even the American struggled to deploy and sustain a company of IFV buy air. However, where the likes of a C17 helps is when you need something fast. When a Challenger was destroyed in Iraq a replacement was delivered within 48 hours.

Darren Bagguley
Darren Bagguley
2 days ago
Reply to  Harry Bulpit

No Challenger has ever been destroyed in combat. There was one in one of the gulf wars that was hit multiple times but was repaired in hours and back in the fight

Harry Bulpit
Harry Bulpit
13 hours ago

When I interviewed a tanker who served in Iraq his vehicle was knocked out by multiple RPGs and had to be returned to the UK, with a replacement vehicle flown out. Perhaps “destroyed” was the wrong word but the vehicle was made inoperable and was beyond the repair facility’s available in Iraq. The vehicle was indeed latter repaired but it took some time.

Andy P
Andy P
19 days ago

Glad there are no plans to reduce the capability, being able to squeeze a load of gear into 4/6/8 of these and get it somewhere quickly is potentially very handy. As has been said before on here, one of the strengths of the UK military is the range of capability we have, I’m sure most of us would like more of it but its better than nothing.

jacques
jacques
19 days ago

Just look at their usage rate AND availability when compared to the A400M and the reasoning becomes obvious

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
19 days ago
Reply to  jacques

A400 availability will improve considerably overtime. It always does, as new aircraft settle in.

Rogbob
Rogbob
18 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

It hasnt yet though and its been doing tasks for 5+ years …

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
18 days ago
Reply to  Rogbob

True, but it will improve. Ironing out problems is never quick with complex military aircraft. 👍

Rogbob
Rogbob
18 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Oh, well aware of that, took 10 years with Typhoon, but as with NH90c some of A400 issues seem permafrosted!

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
18 days ago
Reply to  Rogbob

😆 That’s a good description.

Nic
Nic
19 days ago

With the retirement of the C130, the RAF will need to keep the C17 capability .

Andrew D
Andrew D
19 days ago

Good to hear 🤗

Jake
Jake
19 days ago

Is there any plans to replace the outgoing C-130s and BAE146s, or will the smallest transport aircraft be the A400?

Sonik
Sonik
18 days ago
Reply to  Jake

Capability wise A400 is the replacement for C130. That was always the plan but C130 got kept on longer, due to the problems with A400.

The BAE146s were VIP transport, now replaced by the VIP Voyager and A321neo leased from Titan.

https://simpleflying.com/titan-airbus-a321neo-uk-government/

Nic
Nic
18 days ago
Reply to  Jake

Nothing has been mentioned about replacements for c130 or the 146.
We will probably just have the A400 and the C17

Arr Effaich
Arr Effaich
19 days ago

Fleet? Seriously? Fleet? I’d call 50 a fleet. If our strategic mobility is no better that moving 8 Ajax a day, we’re a small dingy club … not even close to a fleet.

John Clark
John Clark
18 days ago
Reply to  Arr Effaich

They are seriously capable assets, I would love the RAF to get a few more from somone.

As it stands, the only option is buying additional A400’s, but any potential airlift uplift will have to wait until SDSR 2025.

John Hartley
John Hartley
17 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Last I heard the USAF has 10 early C-17 sitting in storage. A senior USAF officer wanted them back in service. Have not heard anything since. The RAF could probably buy one of those ten, if it could get the money from HM Treasury. Very Unlikely.

dan
dan
18 days ago

Can’t really reduce from 8 aircraft. lol

Rogbob
Rogbob
18 days ago

Not the the answer does not preclude having part of the fleet in storage…