The Navy required a Navy Unique Fleet Essential Airlift Replacement Aircraft (the NUFEA-RA Program). This aircraft, since designated the C-40A, was required to replace the aging C-9 fleet. Boeing offered the 737-700 new technology aircraft in response to the Navy’s request for proposal. The Navy did not request and Boeing did not specify any particular equipment to be designated by manufacturer and model number except the basic aircraft itself. Instead, general capabilities and performance requirements were specified.
The C-40A, a derivative of the 737-700C Convertible, that will accommodate 120 passengers, eight pallets of cargo, or a combination configuration consisting of 3 pallets and 70 passengers. The 737-700C is modified with a large cargo door and the strengthened wings and landing gear of the 737-800. The aircraft has a range of 3,400 NM with 5,000 lbs. of cargo and provides long range, high priority logistical airlift in support of Fleet activities.
C-40A (Photo: Boeing)
*** Updated 14 Nov 2021 ***
Congress approved funding for the first four aircraft in 1997. A contract for two C-40As was signed in August 1997, with an option for a third. Delivery of the first aircraft was made in December 2000. On July 30, 1999, Boeing Defense and Space Group was awarded a $43,700,000 modification to the previously awarded contract for the procurement of one C-40A aircraft, to be delivered by August 2001. Five aircraft have been ordered; a sixth aircraft was funded in the FY 2001 budget.
The C-40A is able to carry 121 passengers or 40,000 pounds of cargo, compared with 90 passengers or 30,000 pounds for the C-9. In addition, the maximum range for the Clipper is approximately 1,500 miles more than the C-9. It has a fully digital "glass" cockpit that will allow for future growth and is also fitted with a head-up display, allowing pilots to keep their eyes up and outside in low-visibility approaches. One major improvement is the C-40A's navigation system includes GPS, which will aid in approaches to airports in Third World countries with older, less reliable ground systems.
C-40A with SCD (Photo: Boeing)
The cargo area in the C-40A will be available in three variations: all passenger with a capacity of 121, all cargo with a carrying capability of eight pallets totalling 40,000 pounds, and a combination rig that will allow for 70 passengers and three pallets. In this mode, the cargo compartment is sealed to protect passengers and crews from the potential danger of hazardous cargo.
The 737-700 is assembled from 375,000 parts, which could be a nightmare for the Navy's supply system if required to purchase and order spares for the fleet. But the Navy will be able to partner with private industry-airline and cargo carriers-to purchase parts under a Contract Logistics Supply system. A pool of parts will be created that all partners can access quickly, and this will lower costs because we won't have to stock millions of dollars of parts. The Navy will continue to do its own maintenance.
The first Clipper has been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, much like civilian cargo and passenger aircraft. Because this is a commercial off-the-shelf aircraft, and because the value for potential resale is higher, it made sense to accept FAA certification.
The first C-40A was delivered in April 2001 to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 59, NAS JRB Fort Worth, Texas. Delivery of the first four aircraft to VR-59 was completed by August 2001. The squadron ceased operating C-9s on 1 October and began transition training. Although limited operations will began shortly after delivery of the first aircraft, VR-59 will not be fully operational until April 2002. The fifth aircraft, scheduled for completion in June 2002, will go to VR-58, NAS Jacksonville, Fla., along with one of VR-59's Clippers. VRs 59 and 58 will operate three and two aircraft, respectively, until more are procured. Eventually, each squadron will have four C-40As. At that time, a third site will be selected to receive Clippers.
22 Nov 2004 - Boeing Delivers Seventh C-40A Clipper to U.S. Naval Reserve
ST. LOUIS, Nov. 22, 2004 – Boeing on Saturday delivered the seventh
C-40A Clipper – a modified 737-700 "combi" airplane – to the U.S. Naval