Schwarzenegger pushes for more C-17s
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants more federal funds for the beleaguered C-17 program in Southern California, saying Thursday that the military cargo plane is critical to both the fight against terrorism and the state's economy.
“Discontinuing this aircraft will strain our military’s airlift capacity and seriously jeopardize our national security,” the governor said in a letter to the Armed Services Committee and Committee on Appropriations in the Congress.
The C-17 is the military’s airlift workhorse in both combat and humanitarian relief missions, flying more than 80 percent of all U.S. airlift missions, while comprising only 55 percent of the military's airlift fleet.
The Bush administration's Fiscal Year 2008 budget request and the fiscal year 2007 Emergency Supplemental request did not include funds for additional C-17 production, despite the Air Force incorporating the C-17 into its unfunded request list. Current orders for the plane will carry production at the former McDonnell-Douglas facility in Long Beach through 2009.
“The impact of discontinuing production would be disastrous in California and across the nation,” the governor said.
C-17 production has an estimated economic impact of $8.4 billion dollars nationally and an economic impact that exceeds $3.7 billion dollars in California. If production is shut down 346 company suppliers that employ more than 6,000 skilled workers would be impacted in California alone.
'Given this,' Schwarzenegger said, 'it is clear that accepting the administration's budget request to shut down the C-17 would be a grave mistake and would contradict the Congress’ strong bipartisan support for the program.'