Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Defense Department inks $11.75 billion contract with Boeing for continued C-17A support and maintenance

The Pentagon has approved a 10-year, $11.75 billion deal with Boeing to continue providing maintenance and support services for C-17 jets across the globe.

The Department of Defense contract, an extension of existing agreements, includes $1.6 billion for Fiscal Year 2012 to ensure C-17s remain in the air and are properly maintained.

More than 230 C-17s are owned by the U.S. Air Force and foreign customers including Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and Qatar, according to Boeing officials.

The deal provides C-17 owners general maintenance, engine work, logistics, some parts and labor at all bases where the cargo jets are stationed, said Boeing spokeswoman Lori Moore.

Major work, however, will remain at Boeing's Building 98 at Long Beach Airport, a large high-tech maintenance site near the C-17 assembly plant.

The building's estimated 125 workers repair C-17s that have suffered serious damage, bird strikes, engine trouble and other misadventures.

One Air Force C-17 was towed back to Long Beach by ship after making an emergency landing on its belly in Afghanistan when a landing gear stuck.

No one was hurt in that incident.

"The Building 98 facility has been the primary choice to repair C-17 aircraft that have been subject to a mishap or battle damage," Moore said. "At this facility, C-17s are repaired and returned to service. We also install upgrades to (older) aircraft there."

The contract also allows Boeing engineers and other workers to perform on-site field services when required, preventing the need to ferry the huge jets back to Long Beach from air bases scattered across the world.

The C-17 is widely used to transport troops, heavy equipment like armored vehicles or tanks and emergency aid in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters.

The $11.7 billion contract is the maximum Boeing could receive for its services during the next decade and could be lower depending on need, Moore said.

Annual budgets for Fiscal Year 2013 through 2021 haven't yet been announced, Moore said.

Officials said Boeing employees will continue working with the Air Force on maintenance and support for the C-17.

"Boeing personnel come into contact with the aircraft every day in the field, working alongside Air Force personnel to keep the C-17 fleet flying with the best availability in (heavy) airlift history," Moore said.

(Kristopher Hanson - Long Beach Press Telegram)

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