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Boeing Co. warned on Sept. 13 that it will have to decide as early as January whether to shut down production of its giant C-17 transport plane if the U.S. does not decide on additional orders soon.
The U.S. Air Force's last order, for 60 of the workhorse cargo planes, would be enough to keep the No. 2 defense contractor's assembly line in Long Beach, California going through mid-2008, said C-17 program manager David Bowman.
The shutdown would only happen in 2008 but because of long lead times on supplies, a decision must be made in January 2006, Bowman said.
Boeing, which has won orders for the aircraft from Great Britain and Canada, is also talking to several NATO members about buying the planes, but none of those orders would be big enough to keep the production line open.