Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Travis May Get More C-17s

Travis May Get More C-17s
By Ian Thompson

FAIRFIELD - President Bush's budget contains the money to build 12 more C-17 Globemaster III jet transports, some of which are destined for Travis Air Force Base.

Bush's proposed fiscal year 2007 budget contains $439.3 billion for the Department of Defense, which includes $3 billion to build the dozen C-17s - as many as scheduled. It had no mention of adding 42 more C-17s to the planned 180-plane total, something a Congressional defense bill sought last year and Fairfield supports.

The Air Force is slated to have a fleet of 180 C-17s once the last one rolls off the production line at Boeing Co.'s production line in Santa Barbara in 2008.

"We don't believe there is any direct impact on Travis," said Fairfield City Manager Kevin O'Rourke, who chairs the Travis Community Consortium, an alliance of local governments that lobbies for Travis' needs.

Travis is expected to get a squadron of 13 C-17s - the first one slated to arrive this summer, if everything goes according to plan.

Bush's budget ignores the defense bill passed by Congress late last year that authorized the Air Force to build an additional 42 C-17s, but carried no funding with it.

Both Fairfield and Santa Barbara lobbyists pushed to get the 42 more C-17s funded, which would keep Santa Barbara's C-17 production lines going and open the possibility of Travis getting another C-17 squadron.

"We are still supportive of getting the full fleet of 222 C-17s," O'Rourke said, "and we will work to get the full fleet."

Sen. Barbara Boxer said the Air Force identified the need for the C-17 and that not building beyond the 180 would jeopardize an important aircraft program.

The Air Force considered expanding the C-17 fleet, but the Defense Department's Quadrennial Defense Review said the Air Force could carry out its airlift mission with the 180 C-17s, more contract aircraft and modernized C-5s.

Time will tell if this mobility strategy works, O'Rourke said.

It stated the modernizing and upgrading the C-5 Galaxy will make it more reliable. Work on the large transports has already started at Dover AFB, Del.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

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