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Amazing facts about the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III

The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a large-sized military transport aircraft that was developed by the McDonnell Douglas in between years 1980s to 1990s to serve for the United State Air Force.

The C-17 actually carries the name of its two predecessors on which its design is based on; the Douglas C-74 Globemaster and the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II. The duties served by the C-17 are as follows.

  • tactical and strategic airlift missions
  • transporting troops and cargo throughout the world
  • additional roles like medical evacuation and airdrop duties

The C-17 Globemaster III was designed in order to replace the aging Lockheed C-141 Starlifter as well as serve the duties performed by the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy. With the coming of C-17 Globemaster III, the C-5 was free for use of outsize cargo lift.

McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing back in 1997 and after that, the Boeing continued the manufacturing of the C-17s to export it to other countries after the delivery to USAF ended. N addition to the United States, the C-17 is currently in service of the following countries.

  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Qatar
  • United Arab Emirates
  • NATO Heavy Airlift Wing
  • India
  • Kuwait

The last C-17 manufactured for the USAF was completed at Long Beach, California which flew for the very first time back on 29th November 2015.

For our readers, we have gathered a bunch of amazing facts about the McDonnell Douglas C-17 Globemaster III, which are as follows.


Being one of the largest aircraft in the world, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III has the following measurements.

  • 174 feet long (53 meters)
  • a wingspan of 169 feet, 10 inches

With the presence of other aircraft like the C-5 and C-130, the measurement of the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III places it in the middle of the size class.


The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is equipped with four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engine, whose design is based on the commercial Pratt and Whitney PW2040 that were used for the Boeing 757. Each of these four engines is rated to produce a thrust of 40440 pounds and that also includes the reverse thruster that produces the air flow in the upward direction and forwards direction to avoid the ingestion of debris by the person standing nearby.

Each of these engines weighs about 7100 pounds with 146.8 inches in length.


Despite its large size, the aircraft is operated by only three crewmembers. The three necessary positions are filled by one pilot, one co-pilot and a loadmaster. With these three crewmembers, the aircraft can deliver the rapid strategic delivery of not only troops but also of all types of cargo.

The design and the inner working of the C-17 are kept simple as this way, the aircraft requires minimum manpower, less risk exposure and long term operating costs.

In case of Aeromedical Evacuation Missions, additional five crewmembers are added to the preexisting three people. These additional five crewmembers are as follows.

  • Medical Crew which includes two light nurses
  • Three medical technicians

Cargo Drop: The Largest One ever:-

All of the following Army’s air-transportable equipment are loaded onto C-17 Globemaster III through a large ramp and a door system.

  • 69-ton M1 Abrams main battle tank
  • armored vehicles
  • trucks
  • Trailers
  • Other cargo
  • Even troops

The largest ever fuel drop performed by the C-17 occurred in past few years when it dropped 120 bundles of fuel to a remote army base located in the Middle East.

Payload Capacity:-

THE C-17 Globemaster III has the maximum payload capacity of 172000 pounds or 77519 kilograms. As for the maximum takeoff weight for the aircraft is about 585000 pounds.

According to the report of the U.S. General Accounting Office from 1984  the data provided by the United States, Air Force and McDonnell Douglas Corporation, the C-17’s contractor; the aircraft is designed to carry a maximum cargo weighing about 172000 pounds for a distance of 2900 nautical miles.

Austere Runways

Due to its special design, the C-17 is able to make landings on the austere airfields. According to USAF, an austere runway is the following one.

“Runways are usually less than 4,000 feet long and can be as narrow as 60 feet. Payloads may be constrained by runway length and weight-bearing capacity. There is less than 100,000 square feet of ramp space accessed by way of a single narrow taxiway and there are no turnaround areas at either end of the runway. Ground support and equipment are usually nonexistent.”

Who Flies Them 

There are currently a total of 157 C-17s serving for the USAF in active duty; 7 of them are being flown by the Air National Guard while 18 are in the Air Force Reserve. The C-17s are currently being operated by the following.

  • Air Mobility Command from Travis AFB
  • California, Dover AFB, Delaware
  • Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
  • Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey
  • Pacific Air Forces operates C-17s from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska,
  • Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
  • The Air National Guard operates C-17s from Jackson, Mississippi
  • Stewart ANG Base, New York, Memphis, Tennessee, Martinsburg, West Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina
  • The Air Force Reserve Command operates C-17s at March Air Reserve Base, California, and Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio
  • Air Force Materiel Command has one C-17 on loan from JB Charleston to conduct tests at Edwards AFB, California
  • Air Education and Training Command performs C-17 aircrew training from Altus AFB, Oklahoma

C-17s across the Globe:-

The C-17 is an aircraft that is truly serving across the globe with USAF being its primary customer that has 223 of them at their 22 bases. In addition to the USA, the other countries that have the C-17 Globemaster III in their air force are as follows.

  • NATO Heavy Airlift Wing
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Kuwait
  • Qatar
  • United Arab Emirates
  • India

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