C-17 Globemaster Size Comparison

When it comes to large military transport aircraft, few compare to the impressive C-17 Globemaster. Developed by McDonnell Douglas (now part of Boeing) in the 1980s, the C-17 is a four-engine jet with a massive cargo bay capable of transporting up to 170,900 pounds of cargo or over 100 soldiers.

So just how big is the C-17? Let’s take a closer look at its size comparison and explore some FAQs about this incredible aircraft.

Size Comparison

When fully loaded with cargo, the C-17 measures 174 feet long, 55 feet tall, and has a wingspan of 169 feet. Its cargo bay measures 88 feet long, 18 feet wide, and 12 feet tall. For comparison, that’s roughly the size of a three-car garage.

But it’s not just the C-17’s size that’s impressive. It’s also incredibly heavy, with a maximum takeoff weight of 585,000 pounds. To put that into perspective, that’s about the same weight as 30 elephants or 176 cars.

To make such a weight possible, the C-17 is powered by four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines, each capable of producing 40,440 pounds of thrust. These engines give the C-17 a top speed of 590 miles per hour and a range of about 4,000 nautical miles.

Compare Them

So how does the C-17 compare to other military transport aircraft? Let’s take a look at a few:

1. C-5 Galaxy

The C-5 Galaxy is another massive military transport aircraft, measuring 247 feet long, 65 feet tall, and with a wingspan of 222 feet. Its cargo bay is even larger than the C-17’s, measuring 121 feet long, 19 feet wide, and 13 feet tall. However, the C-5 is heavier than the C-17, with a maximum takeoff weight of 840,000 pounds.

2. C-130 Hercules

The C-130 Hercules is a mid-size military transport aircraft, measuring 97 feet long, 38 feet tall, and with a wingspan of 132 feet. Its cargo bay is considerably smaller than the C-17’s, measuring 41 feet long, 9 feet wide, and 7 feet tall. The C-130 can carry up to 45,000 pounds of cargo and has a maximum takeoff weight of 155,000 pounds.

3. An-124 Ruslan

The An-124 Ruslan is a Russian-made military transport aircraft with a unique design that sets it apart from other aircraft. It measures 226 feet long, 68 feet tall, and has a wingspan of 240 feet. Its cargo bay is almost as large as the C-17’s, measuring 105 feet long, 21 feet wide, and 14 feet tall. The An-124 can carry up to 330,000 pounds of cargo and has a maximum takeoff weight of 893,000 pounds.


Q: What is the C-17 used for?

A: The C-17 is primarily used for transporting military cargo and personnel, including everything from vehicles and equipment to troops and humanitarian aid.

Q: How many C-17s are in service?

A: As of 2021, there are 275 C-17s in service with the United States Air Force, along with several other countries around the world.

Q: Can the C-17 be used for civilian purposes?

A: While the C-17 was designed for military use, it has been used for civilian purposes in the past. For example, it was used to transport relief supplies and medical equipment during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.


The C-17 Globemaster is an incredible military transport aircraft with a massive cargo bay and impressive performance capabilities. Its size and weight make it one of the largest aircraft in the world, and its ability to transport cargo and personnel make it invaluable to the military. Whether delivering supplies to troops in the field or aiding in disaster relief efforts, the C-17 is a vital part of military operations around the world.