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C-17: A Critical Asset
CSC 1992
SUBJECT AREA - Aviation
			EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Title:   C-17: A Critical Asset
Author:  Major B.W. Peters, U.S. Air Force
Thesis:  Program restructuring has degraded the ability of
C-l7s to support U.S. military strategy of power projection;
therefore, the C-17 program must be revisited if we are
resolved to meet our world responsibilities and commitments.
Background:  Fiscal constraints forced the U.S. to shift
away from a forward-based deployment strategy.
Subsequently, Congressional budget cuts have compelled the
Air Force to relook aircraft quantity buys.  Because the
mission of the Air Force is to fly and fight, support
aircraft (C-17) took a back seat in the procurement world to
the "shooters."  Consequently, the C-17 buy was reduced from
210 to 120 aircraft.  The current C-17 buy (120 aircraft)
degrades the ability of C-l7s to support U.S. military
strategy of power projection.  If we are truly resolved to
honor our world commitments, then the C-17 program must be
revisited and given funding priority over the "shooters."
Discussion:  This paper briefly describes the need to
procure an adequate number of C-l7 aircraft to enable U.S.
combat forces access to hot spots worldwide first with the
most force, or at least be able to project enough force to
successfully prosecute a forcible entry scenario.
Therefore, the C-17 should be our top aircraft procurement
program.  The C-17 program must be revisited if we are
resolved to meet our global responsibilities and
commitments.
                            C-17: A CRITICAL ASSET
                                    OUTLINE
Thesis Statement: Program restructuring has degraded the
ability of C-17s to support U.S. military strategy of power
projection; therefore, the C-17 program must be revisited if
we are resolved to meet our world responsibilities and
commitments.
I.   	Introduction
     	A.  	Congressional budget cuts and their effect on Air
         		Force aircraft procurement
         		1.  	Lowered aircraft performance standards
         		2.  	Priority of effort, i.e., shooters vice airlift
     	B.  	Past/future wars and the need for airlift
II.  	Advantages of C-17
     	A.  	Direct delivery capability
     	B.  	Improved short field capability
     	C.  	Designed to meet needs of Army and Marine Corps
III. 	C-l7 Funding Issues
     	A.  	Effects of stretching out the C-17 program
     	B.  	Re-allocation of "shooter" funds to procure
         		additional C-17 aircraft
IV.  	Alternatives to Shortfall in C-17 Aircraft Numbers
     	A.  	C-l41 Service Life Extension Program
     	B.  	Reopen C-5 production line
                            C-17: A Critical Asset
                The United States is being judged by its
                resolve to meet its responsibilities and
                honor its commitments.  The eyes of the
                world - both friend and foe - will be
                watching the C-17 production decision as
                a sign of that resolve.(1)
         	Airpower alone cannot win wars; the army must defeat
the enemy's army and occupy its land.(2)  U.S. wars in the
future may or may not be limited in goals, geographic scope,
or material resources.  These wars will inevitably be
limited in time.(3)  Budget constraints are forcing the
United States to shift away from a forward-based deployment
strategy.(4) Therefore, the majority of our combat forces
will be maintained in the United States.  If the United
States is going to win wars and do it quickly, we must be
able to project adequate force to the battle area in time to
make a difference.  The C-17 is that force projector that
allows the United States to project adequate force to the
battle areas.  If we cannot get there first with the most
force, then we must be able to project adequate force to
successfully prosecute a forcible entry scenario.
         	Congressional budget cuts forced the Air Force to relook
at aircraft quantity buys.  Programs Air Force wide were
reduced or canceled.  Because the mission of the Air Force
is to fly and fight, support aircraft (C-17) took a back
seat in the procurement world to the B-2 and YF-22.
Consequently, the C-17 buy was reduced from 210 to 120
aircraft (A/C).(5)  Program restructuring has degraded the
ability of C-17s to support U.S. military strategy of power
projection; therefore, the C-17 program must be revisited if
we are resolved to meet our world responsibilities and
commitments.
         	The Air Force is faced with severe budget cuts and
force reductions.  Some people believe the Air Force should
procure "shooters" at the expense of support aircraft (i.e.,
support aircraft do not drop bombs, or gain air
superiority).  Furthermore, these same people believe the
current airlift fleet (C-141, C-5, C-13O) is adequate as
witnessed during Desert Storm.  Also, lead time for initial
operating capability for the B-2 and YF-22 is 10 to 15
years.(6) Reducing or delaying these buys jeopardizes the Air
Force's ability to fight in the future.
     	Because of budget constraints the Air Force lowered C-
17 performance standards thereby degrading airlift support
for our military strategy.  Some critics believe that
because the C-17 will not live up to its original
specifications, the program should be canceled.  The
original agreement with McDonnell Douglas (A/C manufacturer)
called for the C-17 to carry 172,000 pounds of cargo 2,400
miles.  Currently, the contract calls for the C-17 to carry
160,000 pounds over the same distance.  Also, the original
contract required the capability to land on a 7,600 foot
runway with a full payload (172,000 pounds).  The
performance standard was changed to landing on a 8,500 foot
runway, however, carrying the new weight of 160,000 pounds.
Furthermore, similar weight reductions impacted the
capability of the C-17 to land on a 3,000 foot runway.  The
change in the landing performance decreased A/C flexibility
and throughput.  In addition, access to worldwide runways
was reduced from over 10,000 to approximately 7,000.  (A C-5
can land on about 5,000 runways worldwide. )(7) The United
States needs more C-17s to counter lowered performance
standards.  The need for "shooters" and the concern over
lower performance standards are valid points, however,
mobility is especially critical in the world today.  The
Secretary of Defense often mentions that waging war requires
the ability to move, shoot, and communicate.  In addition,
he stresses that the ability to move and deploy forces and
equipment is first on the list.(8)
     	The Air Force must place a higher emphasis on
supporting the movement of forces and equipment (i.e., 210
C-17 aircraft) in a timely manner vice procuring the next
generation "shooter."  Our three top "shooters" rolled off
the assembly line in the mid-l970s to late-1980s.
Conversely, our airlift assets are antiquated (mid-1950s to
late-1960s) and, in my opinion, cannot keep pace with the
demands of deploying a large force in a timely manner.
Desert Storm proved we had more than enough air power.  This
armada of air power was less than half the "shooter" numbers
the Air Force possesses.  With the disintegration of the
Soviet Union, the need for a next generation "shooter"
decreases.  Our present armada dominated the Iraqi Air Force
which experts consider some of the best aircraft and pilots
in the world.(9)  The 120 vice 210 C-17s degrades our ability
to project adequate force to the battle area in time to make
a difference.  The risk associated with a decreased C-17 buy
may be paid in lives of American soldiers and the freedom of
a people.
     	Past wars have shown us the importance of airlift as a
force projector.  During the 1973 Arab-Israeli war,
airlifted equipment began arriving in Israel 24 hours after
initial request.  However, sealifted supplies arrived nine
days after the oral cease fire.(10)  Also, Desert Storm
maximized our airlift capability for six months.(11)  It is
highly improbable that the United States could have provided
airlift for another regional war while Desert Storm was in
progress.
     	The Congressionally Mandated Mobility Study (CMMS)
recommended a minimum goal of 66 million ton miles per day
(MTM/D) in strategic airlift.  The C-5/C-141/C-130 aircraft
mix provides 31 MTM/D.  The original C-17 program (210
aircraft) raised the capacity to 66 MTM/D, as well as
replaced some of the aging C-141 aircraft.  If the United
States is to support war in two different regions, meeting
the 66 MTM/D goal (210 vice 120 C-17 aircraft) is critical.
The C-5/C-141/C-130 A/C mix plus 120 C-17 A/C produces
approximately 50 MTM/D.  The MTM/D to support Desert
Shield/Storm was about 46 MTM/D. (12)  Hq MAC validated that
during the first 45 days of Desert Storm, 117 C-141 aircraft
could have been replaced with 80 C-17s.(13)  Therefore, the C-
17 becomes a force multiplier as the United States shifts
from a forward-based deployment strategy.
 	The C-l7 reduces time from onload to the battle area.
Direct delivery is a key element of C-17 design.  Direct
delivery places a full range of equipment, firepower, and
troops to where they are needed.  Cargo airlifted today
require an intertheater sortie (C-141/C-5) to a
transshipment base.  Then the cargo is transferred to an
intratheater sortie (C-130) before the cargo arrives at the
destination airport.  The C-17 eliminates the transshipment
base.  In addition, the C-17 is air refuelable.  This means
that the aircraft never has to land enroute to the combat
zone, thus increasing its independence from overseas bases
for fuel stops.  This capability adds to the direct delivery
process.  For example, to deploy a light infantry division
takes 268 (C-17) direct delivery sorties.  To move the same
division, using the C-141/C-5 and C-130 combination, takes
1650 sorties.(14)  Direct delivery allows airlifted
Army/Marine equipment and supplies to proceed directly to
the battle areas.  This method bypasses the congestion and
backlog at the main operating bases and reduces the time to
reach the battlefield.  The C-17 is capable of delivering
outsized cargo in all types of weather more efficiently than
existing airlift aircraft.  Also, the C-17 can deliver
outsized and heavy payloads directly into small airfields
where C-5/C-141 aircraft were prohibited to land. (15)
     	The C-17 short field capability (ability to operate
into airstrips of 3,000 feet) provides our strategic airlift
force access to 6,399 additional airfields worldwide to
include over 1,000 in NATO and South West Asia.   Also, the
C-17's superior ground maneuvering allows more aircraft to
be on the ramp of floading supplies to our forces.  Eight C-
17s can park in the space required for 3 C-5s (C-17/C-5
payloads are about the same).  In addition, the C-17 has a
smaller turning radius than the C-141 and C-5, and backs up
like a C-l30.  This means that the C-17 offers a 3 to 1
advantage over C-5 in cargo throughput on a 500,000 square
foot ramp.(16)
     	The needs of the Army and Marine Corp were the impetus
in the design of the C-17.  For example, the dimension of
the cargo hold under the wing box was determined by the
height of the Army's Apache helicopter from the ground to
its rotor hub.  The C-17 will also be able to fuel
Army/Marine helicopters or other aircraft on the ground
directly from the airlifter's wing tanks.  In addition, the
fuselage under the troop seats is lined with a bulletproof
composite material (the seats have molded backs for support
during assault landings).(17)
     	Stretching out the program buy also degrades the C-17's
ability to support our military strategy of power
projection.  The fiscal year (FY) 1990 Presidents Budget
(PB) funded 120 C-17 A/C.  Subsequently, the 1991 PB also
funded 120 A/C. The decrease in the C-17 buy (120 vice 210
A/C) resulted in a $90 million (M) increase in program
acquisition unit cost (i.e., $199M (210 A/C), $289M
(120A/C)).   The dollar increase gives the impression that
the program is sick and should be cut.  To meet 1991 program
marks (budget cuts), 26 A/C were slipped to FY 1998/1999.
Consequently, U.S. power projection capability will be
degraded an extra two years.  Furthermore, this slip has
increased total program cost $1 billion (current year
dollars).(18)   This increased cost will probably become a
target of opportunity for budget cutters.  Therefore, the 26
A/C may get cut.
     	Dollars earmarked for the next generation "shooter"
(Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) and B-2) should be moved to
the C-17 program.  In my opinion, there are sufficient funds
in the correct years to procure 90 additional C-17s (210
total C-17 aircraft).  The remaining dollars from the ATF
and B-2 programs would be earmarked for research and
development (R&D) efforts.  The R&D effort would allow the
United States to maintain a technological edge in the
"shooter" arena.
     	An alternative to the 90 A/C shortfall (120 vice 210)
is to extend the life of our C-141 fleet.  The C-141 Service
Life Extension Program (SLEP) cost $12.4 billion.  In
addition to the program's prohibitive cost, SLEP does not
cancel the need for a future airlift aircraft.  Also, SLEP
does not offer state-of-the-art technology.  Furthermore,
the C-17 carries more than twice the payload of a C-141 for
about the same cost per flying hour.(19)
     	Another alternative to the 90 A/C shortfall is to
reopen the C-5 production line.  Hq MAC has determined that
it is cost prohibitive to restart the C-5 production line.
Furthermore,  the C-5 complements the C-17, but does not
replace it.  The C-17 requires 14,700 fewer people than a
comparable C-5/C-130 buy.  In addition, C-17 offers life-
cycle cost savings of $16 billion in manpower and
maintenance.   The C-17 incorporates proven, off-the-shelf
technology. It has a guaranteed mission reliability rate of
93 percent, airframe components warranted for 10,000 hours,
and an aircraft structure warranted for 30,000 hours.(20)
     	Successful execution of U.S. military strategy depends
on the capability to deploy fighting forces where they are
needed in time to make a difference.  The C-l7 is that force
projector that enables the United States to quickly deploy
forces worldwide.  Therefore, the C-17 should be our top
aircraft procurement program.  However, program
restructuring has degraded the ability of C-17s to support
U.S. military strategy of power projection.  Consequently,
we need to increase the C-17 procurement to 210 vice 120
aircraft if we are resolved to meet our world
responsibilities and commitments.
		ENDNOTES
1.	Duane H. Cassidy, Gen., CINCMAC, "MAC's Moment of Truth," Air
Force Magazine, Sep 1986, p. 123.
2.	Charles Horner, Lt Gen., lecture at CSC, Air Power in the Gulf,
6 Jan 1992.
3.	C-17 Production, Hq MAC Pamphlet, p.1.
4.	Arnold Punaro, Staff Director, Senate Armed Forces Committee,
lecture at CSC, Ends, Ways, Means, 2 Oct 1991.
5.	Joseph Ralston, MGen. USAF, lecture at CSC, U.S. Air Force
Aviation, 22 Jan 1992.
6.	lbid.
7.	Casey Anderson, "C-17 standards cut to lower price, MAC chief
says, "` Air Force Times, 8 Apr 1991, p. 6.
8.	Hq MAC Pamphlet, p.4.
9.	Horner, lecture at CSC, 6 Jan 1992.
10.	Ibid.
11.	Hq MAC/XP, "C-17, Geopolitical Argument," 4 Oct 1991.
12.	Hq MAC Pamphlet, p.6.
13.	Hansford  Johnson,  Gen.  USAF,  lecture at CSC,  Views of
CINCTRANSCOM, 10 Feb 1992.
14.	Hq MAC/XP, Point Paper.
15.	Hq MAC/XP, "C-17 -- The All-Theater Airlifter," 27 Mar 1991.
16.	Hq MAC/XR, "C-17 Point Paper," 4 Oct 1991.
17.	C-17," Air Force Magazine, p. 56.
18.	SAF/AQ, 1'C-17," 2 Feb 1991.
19.	Hq MAC, "C-17 -- The Cost Effective Answer," 4 Oct 1991.
20.	Ibid.
                                 BIBLIOGRAPHY
1.  	Anderson, Casey. "C-17 standards cut to lower price."   Air Force 
Times, 8 Apr 1991, p. 6.
2.  	Cassidy, Duane, Gen., USAF. "MAC's Moment of Truth."  Air Force
 Magazine, Sep 1986, p. 123.
3.  	"C-17, Geopolitical Argument." Hq MAC/XP, 4 Oct 1991.
4.  	"C-17 Point Paper." Hq MAC/XR, 4 Oct 1991.
5.  	C-17 Production, Hq MAC Pamphlet.
6.  	"C-17 -- The All-Theater Airlifter." Hq MAC/XP, 27 Mar 1991.
7.  	Horner, Charles, Lt Gen., USAF. lecture at CSC. Air Power in the
Gulf.  6 Jan 1992.
8.  	Johnson, Hansford, Gen., USAF. lecture at CSC. Views of CINCTRANSCOM.
10 Feb 1992.
9.  	Punaro, Arnold, Staff Director, Senate Armed Forces Committee.
lecture at CSC. Ends, Ways, Means. 2 Oct 1991.
10. 	Ralston, Joseph, MGen., USAF. lecture at CSC. U.S. Air Force
Aviation. 22 Jan 1992.
11. 	SAF/AQ, "C-17," 2 Feb 1991.



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