Boeing has delivered its eighth C-17 strategic transport to the Royal Air Force, less than two months after the UK finalised its latest order for the type.
Handed over at Boeing's Long Beach final assembly site in California on 16 May, aircraft ZZ178 will enter use soon with 99 Sqn at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. The unit has logged more than 74,000 flight hours with its C-17s since fielding its first example in 2001, with many of these having been accumulated in support of the UK's military involvement in Afghanistan.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to acquire the new aircraft on 8 February, and a roughly £200 million ($316 million) contract was signed late the following month. Prior to its allocation to the RAF, the transport had been scheduled to enter use with the US Air Force, which deferred the delivery slot to its ally.
"We have the capability to deliver crucial supplies to the front lines with little notice, or to transport injured troops home with a better chance of survival because of the capability and flexibility of the C-17," says Wg Cdr David Manning, officer commanding 99 Sqn.