Cover: Should C-17s Be Used to Carry In-Theater Cargo During Major Deployments?

Should C-17s Be Used to Carry In-Theater Cargo During Major Deployments?

Published 1997

by Paul Killingsworth, Laura M. Williams


Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 2 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 Format Price
Add to Cart Paperback55 pages $23.00

In 1995, RAND was asked to support a study, called the C-17 Tactical Utility Analysis (TUA), to examine possible roles for the C-17 as an in-theater airlifter. The study, conducted by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Program Analysis and Evaluation (OSD(PA&E)), with the support of the Services, found a need for up to a squadron of C-17s operating in-theater during major regional contingencies. The work described in this Documented Briefing used the same assumptions as those in the Tactical Utility Analysis, but a different analytic approach, thereby helping to validate the findings. RAND had two objectives in its support of the TUA: one to estimate the capacity of airfields to support air mobility operations and the other to evaluate possible concepts of operation for in-theater C-17 operations. The first objective is addressed in James P. Stucker, Ruth T. Berg, et al., Understanding Airfield Capacity for Airlift Operations, Santa Monica, CA: RAND, MR-700-AF/OSD (forthcoming). This Documented Briefing addresses the second objective. The authors conclude that there is a robust role for about one squadron of 12 C-17s in-theater during major regional contingencies. However, this number holds only if the assumption is made that the aircraft must be assigned to the theater for the entire duration of the contingency. Even greater benefit may be obtained by deploying more C-17s for in-theater operations during some parts of the contingency and fewer at other times. As an alternative, the authors found that the "stratshuttle" concept, in which shuttles are flown by C-17s arriving in the theater on strategic missions, could probably fly most of the missions that would otherwise require theater-assigned C-17s. Regardless of the concept of employment, there seems to be a clear in-theater role for the C-17 during MRCs.

This report is part of the RAND documented briefing series. RAND documented briefings are based on research presented to a client, sponsor, or targeted audience in briefing format. Additional information is provided in the documented briefing in the form of the written narration accompanying the briefing charts. All RAND documented briefings undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity. However, they are not expected to be comprehensive and may present preliminary findings. Major research findings are published in the monograph series; supporting or preliminary research is published in the technical report series.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.