The UK Royal Air Force will take delivery of its sixth Boeing C-17 strategic transport in mid-2008, following the confirmation on 3 December of a production contract worth around £130 million ($267 million).

The UK leased an initial four C-17s from Boeing in 2001 to cover the late production go-ahead for the Airbus Military A400M, 25 of which will enter RAF service from early next decade. The leased aircraft were purchased outright in August 2006, along with a fifth example which will be delivered to the RAF’s 99 Sqn at Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, early next year.

C-17 RAF 
© Crown Copyright

RAF C-17s have played a key role in supporting UK operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, where they have been used to deliver a wide variety of equipment, including Boeing CH-47 Chinook HC2 transport helicopters. The service's first example - ZZ171 - recently logged its 10,000th flying hour since its delivery in May 2001, according to the RAF News publication.