While a further expansion of the fleet was never ruled out, and while a requirement for at least another C17 was long standing and recognized nearly publically, it remains a true surprise to hear of this order.
Perhaps the fact that, by 2013 at the latest, Boeing will close the C17 assembly line according to current schedule and plans did force the MOD to speed thinking up.
Further details should be released later today, and i will update the article when they come.
A rare but very welcome good news, and an excellent enhancement to a very important capability of the RAF.
The 200 million pounds investment has been announced today by David Cameron.
According to the MOD:
The newest C-17 is currently being built by Boeing in the USA and is due to come off the production line next month. It is then expected to enter service with the RAF in July 2012.
This suggests that the UK bought it directly from the USAF last order. Almost certainly the USAF will not fund an additional plane to replace it, but we will know it in the coming period. The airplane is of course going to join the other 7 RAF C17s at Brize Norton, within 99 Squadron.
There will be no impact on the planned C17 production line closure at Boeing.
Meanwhile, today the Parliamentary Defence Committee released its report and analysis on Libyan ops.
Makes for an interesting read.
Main two points of interest, regarding equipment, are the very high praise for the Sentinel R1, which looks more and more safe despite the SDSR retirement rambling, and the confirmation of the Committee's warning and recommendation of proceeding with both CVF vessels, kitting both as aircraft carriers to ensure that carrier air is available around the clock.