The Air Force Is Calling Its Largest Plane Back To The Tarmac

Gear
Staff Sgt. Randall Ard, 730th Air Mobility Squadron crew chief, clears the runway for a C-5 Galaxy at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Aug. 31, 2015. The 730th AMS provides maintenance support to four types of aircraft, including the world’s largest U.S. military aircraft, the C-5.
Photo via DoD

Senior U.S. Air Force officials want to return a number of C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft to active duty after budget cuts pushed them out of service over the last few years.


The C-5 Galaxy is the largest airlifter in the Air Force, standing 65 feet high with a length of 247 feet and a 223-foot wingspan.

The C-5M model, first deployed in 2009, featured more powerful engines that allowed it to haul more cargo with less room needed for takeoff.

The C-5M can haul 120,000 pounds of cargo more than 5,500 miles — the distance from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to Incirlik airbase in Turkey — without refueling. Without cargo, that range jumps to more than 8,000 miles.

It can carry up to 36 standard pallets and 81 troops at the same time or a wide variety of gear, including tanks, helicopters, submarines, equipment, and food and emergency supplies. The C-5M also set 45 aviation records in one flight.

Because of previous budget cuts as well as sequestration, the Air Force has already moved 12 C-5s and C-5Ms into backup aircraft inventory, "which means we still have the aircraft but lost all manning and funding to operate them," Air Mobility Commander Gen. Carlton D. Everhart IItold lawmakers at the end of March.

Everhart also said the C-5 inventory had fallen from 112 C-5s a few years prior to just 56 now.

Airmen from the 9th Airlift Squadron and 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron with Marines from the Marine Expeditionary Brigade load vehicles into a C-5M Super Galaxy October 6, 2014, at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.Jared Keller

In the coming years, the Air Force wants to move at least eight of the mothballed C-5Ms back into service, using newly allocated funds, according to DoDBuzz.

"We're going to buy back two a year for four years, if we're able to have a predictable budget to get the fleet back to higher quality," Lt. Gen. Jerry D. Harris, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, told the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee this week.

"I need them back because there are real world things that we've got to move, and they give me that … added assurance capability," Everhart told lawmakers at the end of March. The C-5M's increased range makes it doubly valuable in the vast Pacific theater.

"Recently, one of these aircraft flew from Travis Air Force Base, California, to Yokota, Japan," Everhart said of the C-5M. "It's the only airlifter in the inventory that can make the flight nonstop, which means we can put the American flag on the ground in hours versus days."

Visitors queue to see the interior of the Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft, Spirit of Global Reach, of the US Air Force at the 49th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport, east of Paris, June 25, 2011Photo via Associated Press

Air Mobility Command also intends to improve its current active fleet of airlifters, "upgrading the avionics to improve communications, navigation, and surveillance/air traffic management compliance as well as adding new safety equipment and installing a new autopilot system," according to an Air Force release.

The project, slated to wrap up in 2018, will also upgrade C-5As, C-5Bs, and C-5Cs into C-5M Super Galaxies by installing the F-138 commercial engine, the release said, giving them a "22 percent increase in thrust, a 30 percent shorter takeoff roll, a 58 percent faster climb rate and will allow significantly more cargo to be carried over longer distances."

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