After 17 years of service, the American C-17 transport has spent over two million hours in the air. This equals over two billion kilometers travelled. There are 226 American and foreign C-17s in service. The C-17 fleet passed a million hours only five years ago, when there were 152 in service. Despite the heavy use, the C-17 has been very reliable, with a current readiness rate of 85 percent. The 290 ton C-17 can carry up to 100 tons (including one M-1 tank) anywhere in the world because of in-air refueling. The C-17, costs about $250 million each. Britain is the largest foreign user of the C-17. Australia and Canada each got four. The U.S. Air Force operates 173.
But in the meantime, C-17s are being worked to death. The problem is that the C-17 is more in demand during the war on terror than are air force combat aircraft. Only the two dozen AC-130 gunships, and a hundred or so A-10 ground attack aircraft and F-16 fighter-bombers are getting steady work these days. But their workload is nothing compared to the C-17s, which are in constant demand to deliver personnel and material to American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other places where the war on terror is being fought.