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Know Your Aircraft: The McDonnell Douglas C-17 Globemaster III

Today on this “Know Your Aircraft” episode, let’s discover the McDonnell Douglas C-17 Globemaster III.

The C-17 Globemaster was first introduced in 1995 as the US Air Force’s primary aircraft for troops and cargo’s global transportation. Initially produced by McDonnell Douglas, the C-17 is now produced by the Boeing Company after both companies merged in 1997. 

Designed for the United States Air Force, the Globemaster is also currently in service with the UK Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, and several other Air Force in the world. 

Used as a mass transportation aircraft, the Globemaster is powered by four Pratt &  Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines to support its massive 585,000lb maximum takeoff weight. The cargo bay has a total capacity of 170,00lbs with space for 134 troops or 54  ambulatory patients and associated medical attendants. Thanks to its sophisticated flight deck, the crew consists of only one pilot, one copilot, and a loadmaster, reducing by the way manpower requirements and operating costs. 

The cargo floor in the Globemaster has rollers installed for pallets of cargo to be loaded.  These rollers can also be flipped to provide a flat surface for the transportation of vehicles or troops. The C-17 cargo compartment can accommodate three Stryker infantry carrier vehicles or up to 10 Humvee vehicles. It can also carry one M1A1 Abrams Tank, or two HH-60 Pave Hawk Helicopters. 

Another great feature of the C-17 is the ability to drop a payload of up to  60,000lbs, or sequential payloads up to 110,000lbs while being airborne.  

One significant advantage of the C-17 Globemaster is its ability to operate into very short airfields and harsh terrain. Even when loaded with a payload of 165,000lbs, the C-17 requires only 3000ft of runway for landing, making this aircraft incredibly versatile for a wide variety of missions, like transporting cargo, troops, and vehicles all around the globe. Reverse thrust availability for taxiing further increases its versatility by giving pilots the ability to reverse back to a takeoff position after landing, a feature that very few aircraft in the world can perform. This ability is achieved by directing engine exhaust air upwards and forwards, reducing the risk of ingesting debris. 

After proving its success over the years with over 279 airframes built and over 3 million flying hours, it is anticipated that the C-17 Globemaster will remain operational for decades to come.

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