New funding OK'd by Congress for 10 more transports is
likely to keep plant open longer than expected.
Congress' unexpected decision to provide funds to buy 10
additional C-17 transports for the Air Force could keep the
Long Beach assembly line going into 2010, more than six
months beyond the previous shutdown date, a Boeing spokesman
"A month ago, we very publicly announced we
were notifying our supplier network that they were to stop
work on all uncommitted airplanes, those airplanes that did
not have firm orders," Boeing representative Rick Sanford
said. "The last airplane was to be delivered in the middle
of 2009," he said. "While I can't give you a new date, this
great news -- will certainly slide that to the right,"
through the end of 2009 and probably into the next year.
The announcement late Thursday that money for 10 more
planes was provided in a compromise defense appropriations
bill was unexpected.
The Pentagon had requested money in the 2007 defense
budget to buy 12 C-17s, the last of the 180 previously
authorized. Both chambers of Congress had provided the money
for those 12 Globemaster IIIs and added funds for three more
in a $50 billion emergency fund to support combat operations
in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the promise of extra three
planes was not enough to keep Boeing from issuing the order
to shut down the C-17 supply line.
Then, in the final action by a House-Senate conference
committee on a $447.4 billion compromise defense
appropriations bill, the lawmakers increased the emergency
fund to $70 billion and used part of that to pay for seven
more C-17s. That meant a total of $4.4 billion for 22 new
planes, which would bring the Air Force's total to 190
Globemasters, if the bill becomes law.