The UK Royal Air Force has requested information on the availability of additional Boeing C-17 Globemasters to bolster the four aircraft it has recently taken on a seven-year lease.

The UK Defence Procurement Agency (DPA), however, says no decision will be taken in the near term, and no funding is available at present. The latter could be a major stumbling block particularly as Ministry of Defence sources say UK Chancellor Gordon Brown is already questioning the cost of supporting the US action against Afghanistan.

The RAF has two options: either get the US Air Force to offer up more of its existing delivery/order positions - as it did for the four original aircraft - or order new aircraft, which would entail waiting a year or more while the additional transports are built. "The USAF, the RAF and Boeing are all talking, but it is not just the UK that wants more," says Boeing. The USAF is seeking money in the fiscal year 2002 budget to begin ordering 60 more aircraft extending production beyond the end of 2004. The additional 60 could include 10 BC-17X commercially operated transports.

Source: Flight International