For the past 39 years, the C-141B Starlifter cargo jet has served the United States Air Force as it's primary workhorse for handling transport duties during armed conflicts, as well as, peacekeeping and humanitarian missions throughout the world. However, the needs of today's military in the ever-changing worldwide environment have begun to reveal the C-141B's age. In recent years, threats to the United States national security have increased the immediacy of replacing the C-141B with an aircraft that meets the current needs of our military, yet is flexible enough to meet future needs as well. The C-17 Globemaster III, originally developed to complement the C-141B, has now become the heir apparent to the aging Starlifter.
Developed in 1991 and operational since 1995, the C-17 Globemaster III is in every way superior to the aging C-141B. With its four engines each producing 40,500 pounds of thrust, the C-17 is capable of a maximum speed of 515 mph and a service ceiling of 45,000 feet. Its powerful engines allow the C-17 to use a runway only 3,000 feet long. By comparison, the C-141B's four engines produce only 20,250 pounds of thrust. This limits the aircraft to a maximum speed of 475 mph and a service ceiling of 41,000 feet. The C-141B requires a runway of at least 6,000 feet, which makes it impractical for many of the world's runways.
A big advantage of the C-17 is its minimal crew requirements. A crew of three is all it takes to fly this aircraft. A pilot and a co-pilot handle flying duties, while only one loadmaster is responsible for the cargo bay, cargo, and passengers. The C-141B, however, requires as many as six crewmembers to operate. A pilot, co-pilot, engineer, and scanner are necessary to fly the plane, and 2-3 loadmasters are required to manage the cargo and passengers. Of course, this also means twice as many crew need to be trained, and the training per person is generally m
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