In many ways, it was the kind of mission the C-17 was designed to perform. It was intended to bridge the gap between the giant strategic airlift provided by the C-5 Galaxy and the tactical C-130 Hercules. It was meant to lift heavy loads but still be able to get into tight and austere environments. It needs a mere 3,500 feet to land and can use its reverse thrusters to execute a three-point turn to get back up again.
“C-17 is really flexible. When you look at the mission set, you can do that strategic airlift, the long passenger carrier kind of mission. It’s also used for short takeout and landing,” Okeson said. “I think it’s pretty amazing.”
There are 275 aircraft in operation by the U.S. Air Force and international partners around the world.
“I’ll tell you that C-17 right now can last for quite some time. I expect it’s going to be in the inventory for many more years,” Okeson said. “There’s a lot of legs left on this platform.”
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