Air Force Signs Pacts for McDonnell C-17s: The $16.2-billion contracts with St. Louis-based McDonnell Douglas and its subcontractors are the biggest multiyear contracts ever entered into by the federal government. With new assurances that the move will save taxpayers more than $1 billion, the Air Force signed contracts to buy 80 of the jumbo cargo planes over seven years. The 80 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft will eventually bring the Air Force fleet to 120 airplanes as the older C-141 is retired over the next decade. There are 26 C-17s now in service. The deal includes a $1.7-billion order for 350 Pratt & Whitney engines. In St. Louis, the contracts mean job security for about 2,000 McDonnell Douglas workers, and for about 8,400 in Long Beach, where final assembly takes place.