Today, the final Boeing C-17 Globemaster III has departed the company’s plant in Long Beach, Calif., marking the official end of aircraft production in Long Beach.
The airlifter flew over a crowd and the facility before heading to the company’s San Antonio location, where it will remain until delivery to the Qatar Emiri Air Force early in 2016.
With the completion of C-17 production, Boeing will continue the Globemaster III legacy, providing support, maintenance and upgrades to the worldwide C-17 fleet under the C-17 Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program (GISP) Performance-Based Logistics agreement.
The decision to end production of the C-17 production program was announced in 2013. Since the first C-17 took to the air on Sept. 15, 1991, the C-17 fleets for the U.S. Air Force and international partners have amassed more than three million flying hours supporting airlift of troops and large cargo, precision airdrop of humanitarian supplies and lifesaving aeromedical missions.
The C-17 Globemaster III was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) from the 1980s to the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas. The C-17 carries forward the name of two previous piston-engined military cargo aircraft, the Douglas C-74 Globemaster and the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II. The C-17 commonly performs strategic airlift missions, transporting troops and cargo throughout the world; additional roles include tactical airlift, medical evacuation and airdrop duties.
Boeing, which merged with McDonnell Douglas in the 1990s, continued to manufacture C-17s for export customers following the end of deliveries to the U.S. Air Force. Aside from the United States, the C-17 is in service with the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, NATO Heavy Airlift Wing, India, and Kuwait.
The Long Beach plant was Douglas Aircraft Company’s largest facility, totaling 1,422,350 sq. ft. The first plane rolled out the door on December 23, 1941. The plant produced C-47 Skytrain transports, B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, and A-20 Havoc attack bombers simultaneously. Douglas merged with the McDonnell Aircraft Company in 1967 where the Douglas DC-8 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 were built. After McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing in 1997, the C-17 Globemaster III was produced in Long Beach, until the plant’s closure this year.