LONG BEACH, Calif., Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Nearly 3,000 Boeing employees begin losing their jobs next year as the company starts to end production of C-17 Globemaster III military transports.
The layoffs are scheduled in four locations: Long Beach, Calif.; Macon, Ga.; Mesa, Ariz.; and St. Louis, Mo.
Boeing said it will provide assistance to those losing their jobs including job search resources, financial counseling, retirement seminars and help locating potential jobs within and outside of the company.
"We recognize how closing the C-17 line will affect the lives of the men and women who work here, and we will do everything possible to assist our employees, their families and our community," said Nan Bouchard, vice president and C-17 program manager.
The C-17 Globemaster III, the U.S. military's premier airlifter, first took flight in 1991. A total of 257 have been delivered by the company -- 223 to the U.S. Air Force, and 34 to Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Britain and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations.
Boeing said production of 22 additional new C-17s – at 10 per year – remains to take place.
"Ending C-17 production was a very difficult but necessary decision," said Dennis Muilenburg, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. "We want to thank the highly skilled and talented employees who have built this great airlifter for more than two decades, and those who will help us as we continue to build the remaining 22 aircraft and support and modernize the global fleet for decades to come.
Although production is ending, after-delivery support for the aircraft will continue as part of the C-17 Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program Performance-Based Logistics agreement.
The aircraft's production line in Long Beach, Calif., will close in 2015.
"Our customers around the world face very tough budget environments," Muilenburg said. "While the desire for the C-17's capabilities is high, budgets cannot support additional purchases in the timing required to keep the production line open.
"What's more, here in the United States the sequestration situation has created significant planning difficulties for our customers and the entire aerospace industry. Such uncertainty forces difficult decisions like this C-17 line closure."
In other Boeing news, the company's F-15SG, delivered to the Republic of Singapore Air Force in 2009, has achieved full combat operational capability status.
"The RSAF's F-15SGs have been rigorously tested and proven superior in air defense and strike capabilities, and integrated with other air platforms within the RSAF, which together are able to respond to a spectrum of threats to defend and dominate our skies," Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen said at a ceremony marking the milestone. "A strong RSAF provides confidence that Singapore is well capable of defending its sovereignty and protecting our precious homeland."
The SG variant of the aircraft is the latest, with state-of-the-art avionics, a sophisticated integrated sensor suite, network capabilities, superior firepower and combat endurance.