AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals “The production line cannot lapse. Unless they fund (the C-17s) in 2007, the U.S. has forfeited the last large military aircraft production line in the country. That’s egregious,” Smith said. “We’d be losing our number one defense capability.” Added Long Beach Councilman Frank Colonna, “It’s absolutely critical to the national defense, and of course it’s critical to the economy of Long Beach.” Colonna, along with Mayor Beverly O’Neill, Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald, Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga and at least one other council member will meet Tuesday at the Pentagon. Smith said the group will meet with Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley. Lisa Friedman, (202) 662-8731 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – A delegation of Long Beach officials will meet with top Air Force brass in Washington next week to make a military case for saving the production of Boeing Co.’s C-17s. In a strategy similar to the recent successful fight to save Los Angeles Air Force Base from closures, local leaders said rather than press the potential job loss if the Pentagon stops purchasing the aircraft, they instead will argue that the cargo transport planes are critical to U.S. forces. A Defense Department study recommended purchasing no C-17s beyond the 180 currently planned. The last of those is scheduled for delivery in 2008, meaning production – most of which is done in Long Beach – could wind down next year, putting about 6,500 people out of work. The U.S. Senate recently approved a measure keeping the production line open, but Los Angeles County lobbyist E. Del Smith called that merely a “wish list” that means nothing if President Bush doesn’t put funding for the C-18s in his 2007 budget.