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C-17 reaches 20-year milestone

McChord to celebrate the day

McChord Field will celebrate the 20th anniversary of receiving its first C-17. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

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Two decades ago, on this upcoming July 30, the 62nd Airlift Wing at McChord Field received its first C-17 Globemaster III.

Named "The Spirit of McChord" with the tail number 98-0052, it has been joined by 48 others since then in carrying out the wing's mission of supporting worldwide combat and humanitarian airlift contingencies.

"Over the next three weeks we are going to highlight the newest, most flexible cargo aircraft in the United States Air Force," stated a wing press release.

The official event is called the "Rededication for the C-17A Globemaster III, ‘The Spirit of McChord,'" to be held Friday, July 26.

There's a lot to highlight ... and to be proud of.

No other cargo aircraft has been called to war for as long as the Globemaster. Shortly after the 62nd AW received its first two C-17s July 30, 1999, the wing and its aircraft were tasked to transport servicemembers and equipment into Afghanistan, and then later into Iraq.

The Boeing-built aircraft is designed to fly longer, carry more and land on shorter runways than any of its predecessors.

At 174 feet in length, 55 feet high, with a wingspan of just under 170 feet and a maximum gross takeoff weight of 585,000 pounds which can land on a runway as short as 3,500 feet, the C-17 remains flexible and reliable.

A C-17 can execute the strategic delivery of troops and cargo to forward areas, the performance of tactical airlift and airdrop missions, and the transportation of litters and ambulatory patients.

As to reliability, the Globemaster has an aircraft mission completion success probability rate of over 92 percent; it requires only 20 aircraft maintenance man-hours per fly hours; and it has full and partial mission availability rates of 75 and 83 percent, respectively.

During a ceremony marking the delivery of the last C-17 to McChord several years ago, retired Lt. Gen. Darren McDew said, "I have no reason to believe it can't survive for another couple of decades."

The McChord Field community agrees, and the C-17 will continue to reliably serve the nation and its interests for another 20 years.

To learn more about the 20th anniversary, visit:,, Instagram @62dAirliftWing,, and

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