Title: The USAF C-17 Fleet: A Strategic Airlift Shortfall?

Subject: Does the overall decrease in AMC tail numbers for the strategic airlift fleet change our ability to support future operations?

Author(s): Bret G. Rider (Faculty Advisor); Randall L. Long


Abstract: The United States Air Force requires a core airlifter to accomplish national military objectives. The current aircraft that fills this role, the aging C-141 Starlifter, is being replaced by the C-17 Globemaster III. The success of this new airlifter depends not only on its inherent capabilities, but also on the size of the fleet. Determining the "right" size rests on our ability to forecast future requirements and tailor our airlift assets to meet established objectives.

Current studies and recent contingencies indicate that strategic airlift force structure will be unable to meet our present national security strategy and national military objectives. This report analyzes the ability of our current and future airlift forces to project and sustain U.S. power abroad. To this end, the focus of the research is in three resource planning areas: 1) present and future requirements; 2) current capabilities; and 3) airframe attrition. In the requirements discussion, the analysis highlights the underestimation of airlift needed to deploy and sustain U.S. forces in major regional conflicts around the world. The capabilities section examines airlift to the extent to which current and future fleets meet projected requirements. Finally, the last segment emphasizes the need to account for airframe attrition when using resource planning models.

Last updated 1998 Mar 10