Military Airlift:

Comparison of C-5 and C-17 Airfield Availability

NSIAD-94-225: Published: Jul 11, 1994. Publicly Released: Jul 11, 1994.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the number of airfields that will be available to C-17 aircraft compared to what is available to C-5 aircraft.

GAO found that: (1) the Air Force estimates that the C-17's capability to land on short airfields would enable it to land at about 9,900 airfields compared to 3,500 for C-5 aircraft; (2) the Air Force's estimate did not take into account runway strength and included many types of airfields that are not suitable for either aircraft; (3) the C-17's wartime airfield advantage decreases from 6,400 airfields to about 900 airfields when wartime landing requirements are considered; (4) when airfields in the United States, Canada, and Mexico are excluded, the C-17's wartime advantage decreases to 95 airfields; (5) the DOD Mobility Requirements Study identified only three airfields that would be used by C-17 aircraft in major regional contingency scenarios; and (6) Air Force officials contend that the Mobility Requirements Study is based on a doctrine that does not currently reflect the use of small airfields and that when the C-17 is fully operational, the Army will change the doctrine accordingly.

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