See inside a $340 million Boeing military transport jet that keeps American troops and supplies moving around the world

Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
  • The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a workhorse transport and cargo plane of the US Air Force.
  • As many as 102 troops can be flown anywhere in the world on the aircraft. 
  • More than 800 Afghan refugees were transported to safety on the aircraft in just one flight. 
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III should be instantly recognizable to any US service member who has deployed to an overseas combat zone in the past two decades.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
Since its first delivery to the US Air Force at Joint Base Charleston in 1993, Boeing's flagship military aircraft has served the US military through two wars and aided countless conflicts and missions.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Source: US Air Force

Air Mobility Command primarily operates the US military’s fleet of more than 200 C-17 aircraft that have been delivered over the past three decades. A veritable jack of all trades, they act as cargo planes, troop transports, and even flying hospitals.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
Most recently, though, the US military relied upon the C-17 to safely evacuate military personnel, government contractors, and refugees from Afghanistan at the end of the war in Afghanistan.
In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load people being evacuated from Afghanistan onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.
In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load people being evacuated from Afghanistan onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.
The UAE Air Force showed off one of its Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIIs at the Dubai Airshow in November that's comparable to what the US Air Force flies. Here's what it's like inside.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
Commercial aviation has the Boeing 747 and military aviation has the C-17 when it comes to four-engine workhorse aircraft. Nations around the world including the UK, Qatar, UAE, Canada, India, Australia, and Kuwait have all chosen the C-17 to help power their militaries.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
The C-17 stands at 174 feet long and 55 feet and one inch tall, with an unmistakable look that sets it apart from other aircraft.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Source: US Air Force

Four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 engines power the aircraft and offer 40,440 pounds of thrust.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Source: US Air Force

The engines are so powerful that they are used to slow the plane during steep tactical descents, something which a commercial airliner would never dream of doing.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Source: US Air Force

All cargo is loaded through the C-17's rear cargo door that comes equipped with a ramp for easy loading and offloading.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
Helicopters, vehicles, and even a 69-ton M1 Abrams tank can be transported in the back of a C-17, thanks to a maximum payload capacity of 170,900 pounds.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Source: US Air Force

The cargo compartment spans 88 feet with a width of 18 feet and a height of 12 feet and 4 inches, enough space for 102 troops, 36 medical litters, and 54 ambulatory patients.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Source: US Air Force

Unlike a passenger airliner or even a traditional cargo freighter, however, there's very little that's aesthetically pleasing about the cargo hold of a C-17.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
Wiring and cabling run along the cabin walls and almost give the appearance that the aircraft is unfinished.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
As with any military aircraft, there are very few luxuries and interior cabin fittings take a back seat to utility and performance.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
Passenger seats can be found along the side walls of the aircraft and are about as basic as they can get.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
Extra seats can be installed throughout the aircraft depending on the mission.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
When flying important passengers including dignitaries, plush leather recliner seats can be installed in the cabin. They're similar to what is found in the premium economy class cabin of an international airline.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
Slightly more basic airline-style seats can also be installed in rows of five across.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
They are undoubtedly an improvement from the barebones seats found along the cabin wall.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
But these seats are a far cry from those found on any modern airline.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
Passengers may board through either the cargo door or the forward door that comes with a built-in set of stairs.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
But not all passengers enter and exit through the same door. Paratroopers will often jump from the plane using one of two side doors, just as the US military has been doing since the days of Douglas C-47 Dakota.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
Paratroopers will line up in a single file and jump out of the plane one by one as their parachute chords are automatically pulled by a static line inside the aircraft.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
The C-17 is also capable of medical evacuations in which litters can be placed in the cargo compartment.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
The US Air Force staffs a medical evacuation flight with two flight nurses and three medical technicians.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Source: US Air Force

Litters can be stacked on top of each other as many as three high.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
The US military also proved in August that the C-17 is more than capable of flying more than 102 passengers. At the end of the war in Afghanistan, one C-17 transported 823 refugees alone out of Kabul, Afghanistan to safety.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III Afghanistan evacuation
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III evacuating refugees from Afghanistan.
On August 31, the last US military aircraft including C-17s flew from Kabul to Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar, marking the end of the 20-year war.
Afghanistan evacuation C-17
Evacuees wait to board a C-17 at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 23, 2021.
The C-17's cockpit is located on the upper level of the aircraft, above the cargo compartment.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
The US Air Force prides itself on using commercially available "off the shelf" equipment on the C-17. And the cockpit is as similarly unaesthetic as the cargo compartment.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Source: US Air Force

Pilots use a control stick grip that's situated between their legs and similar to those found in helicopters and fighter jets, to fly the airplane rather than a traditional yoke.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
A heads-up display, also similar to those found in fighter jets, allows pilots to keep their eyes forward which comes in handy during tactical approaches and other intense maneuvers.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
The C-17 can fly as high as 45,000 feet and doesn't need to land for fuel thanks to its aerial refueling capability.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Source: US Air Force

Only two pilots are required in the cockpit to fly the Globemaster while a loadmaster is focused on any cargo or passengers in the back of the plane.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Source: US Air Force

The loadmaster’s office is on the lower floor of the C-17 directly below the cockpit.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
Just like on any cargo plane, the loadmaster is responsible for ensuring that aircraft are properly loaded and that the weight and balance of the aircraft on a given mission is within the aircraft's capabilities.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
And while there may not be many luxuries on the aircraft, there's is an airline-style galley complete with a coffeemaker.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
US Air Force C-17s traverse the globe on a daily basis as the US maintains its global military presence.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
The C-17 has proven its capabilities time and time again and is frequently the military's go-to for a variety of missions.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
Air Mobility Command bases the aircraft at military bases across the US including Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina, Travis Air Force Base in California, Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey,
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Source: US Air Force

And even during peacetime, to paraphrase one service member, there's always a job for Air Mobility Command.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III — Dubai Airshow 2021.
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III at the Dubai Airshow 2021.
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