Officials urge Hill to stop adding more C-17s to fleet

Senior defense officials on Tuesday urged lawmakers to end production of the C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes, arguing that the Air Force's fleet of large cargo aircraft already exceeds the military's operational needs.

During a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Federal Financial Management Subcommittee, Pentagon and Air Force officials warned that any congressional effort to buy more unwanted C-17s -- each carrying a price tag of nearly $300 million -- would jeopardize funding for other needed programs.

In addition, they argued that adding more C-17s to the fleet could hinder the Pentagon's five-year effort to trim more than $100 billion in unnecessary costs across the department and military services and redirect the savings to more pressing needs.

"Force structure is the ultimate cost driver in the department," said Michael McCord, principal deputy undersecretary of Defense in the Pentagon's comptroller office. Costs associated with additional aircraft, he added, include training, operating and construction costs not included in a plane's price tag.

The Pentagon's heightened efforts this year to end C-17 production follows a recent study of the military's airlift requirements, which found that the Air Force's fleet of 223 C-17s and 111 larger C-5 Galaxy aircraft provides about 10 percent more lift than the department requires.

Neither the House-passed fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill nor the Senate Armed Services Committee's version includes funding for more C-17s.

But appropriators have long favored buying more of the Boeing-built cargo planes, and may attempt to add more to the fiscal 2011 defense spending bill despite strong warning by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that he would recommend President Obama veto any legislation that keeps the procurement program alive.

The Pentagon last sought money to buy a C-17 in its fiscal 2007 budget request to complete its planned purchase of 180 of the aircraft. Since then, Congress has added roughly $9 billion to spending bills to buy another 43 planes, whose production employs 30,000 people in 43 states.

During meetings on Capitol Hill over the last several months, Boeing has argued that it needs the U.S. military to buy five planes in fiscal 2011 to supplement international orders and keep the production lines running at optimum speed, several defense sources tracking the issue recently told CongressDaily.

But Federal Financial Management Subcommittee ranking member John McCain, R-Ariz., who also serves as the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said during Tuesday's hearing that he believes the current fiscal environment and budgetary pressures may help lawmakers opposed to buying more C-17s "prevail over appropriators."

Meanwhile, officials on Tuesday also asked lawmakers to lift a ban on retiring the oldest C-5s in the fleet. The Pentagon wants to retire 17 C-5s in fiscal 2011 and another five the following year to shed some of the military's excess cargo capacity.

The retirements are estimated to save $325 million over the next several years in depot maintenance, flying hours and modernization costs, said Maj. Gen. Susan Desjardins, Air Force director of strategic plans, requirements and programs at Air Mobility Command.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.