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Senate pressed to fund transformation

The Boeing C-17A’s potential as a commercial aircraft has been reawakened. The US Senate is being pressed to approve add-on funding in the fiscal 2006 defence budget later this year. The funds would pay to launch a programme to sell a number of used C-17s to a potential new investment group.

US Air Force officials and Boeing have confirmed that Air Mobility Command (AMC) has agreed to make the 22 oldest C-17s available for sale. Several investment groups, perhaps including the Carlyle Group, are known to be pursuing a deal. The AMC plan would require the new owner to register the aircraft with the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, making them eligible for mobilisation requirements. Ron Marcotte, Boeing C-17 business development manager, declines to specify a likely cost for the used aircraft, but suggests a reasonable price may be about 50% of the C-17’s $220 million new-build price.

The USAF would benefit from the deal by using sale proceeds to supplement funding to buy more new C-17s. C-17 commercial sale proposals surfaced about five years ago as the failed BC-17X programme, which had been championed by Darleen Druyun, the former number two USAF acquisition official now in prison for admitting improper contacts with Boeing during a hiring process.

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