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Australia Funds Four C-17s: The new budget for Australia’s defense expenditures provides $1.9 billion for the acquisition of up to four Boeing C-17 airlifters, confirms a May 9 statement from the office of Minister of Defense Brendan Nelson. The folks down-under should see the first new C-17 in December, with final delivery to be complete by mid 2008. “This acquisition means that instead of leasing aging [Russian] Antonovs or waiting in queues for American airlift support, Australia will have its own heavy airlift capability, when we need it and where we need it,” said Nelson. Unfortunately, as we reported earlier, Boeing says just the order for four will not solve the company’s dilemma about the C-17 production line. The US Congress, though, seems willing to fund more than the 180 C-17s stipulated by the Pentagon.