C-5 Galaxy / C-5M Super Galaxy

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Product Type:

Heavy Strategic Airlift Aircraft

Using Service (US):

Air Force (USAF)

Program Status:

Currently upgrading C-5 aircraft to the C-5M
Super Galaxy configuration.

Prime Contractor:

Lockheed Martin Corporation

The C-5 Galaxy Strategic Airlifter

About the C-5 Galaxy and C-5M:

The Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy / C-5M Super Galaxy is a long-range, air refuelable, strategic military transport aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force. It is the largest aircraft in the U.S. armed forces' inventory. Using the front and rear cargo openings, the C-5 Galaxy can be loaded and offloaded at the same time. Both nose and rear doors open the full width and height of the cargo compartment.

The C-5 Galaxy routinely carries 73 troops and 36 standard 463L pallets. The aircraft is able to carry two M1 Abrams main battle tanks, or one Abrams tank plus two M2/M3 Bradley fighting vehicles, or six AH-64 Apache/Apache Longbow attack helicopters. Also, the C-5 is able to carry as many as 15 HMMWV (humvees).

The C-5 fleet (A, B, and C models) was delivered to the U.S. Air Force from 1969 to 1989. In total, 131 aircraft were produced of which 81 were C-5A models (delivered from 1969-1973) and later modified with stronger wings and improved turbofans. The C-5B first flew in 1985 and was equipped with improved turbofans, strengthened wings, color weather radar, and triple INS. The first of 50 C-5Bs was delivered in January 1986. Two C-5As were also modified to the C-5C configuration to carry outsize NASA space cargo. There were 102 aircraft in the USAF C-5 inventory in January 2012. By September 2013, the inventory had fallen to 72. There are 57 C-5A/B/C/M aircraft in the Air Force fleet as of December 2015. Five of that fleet are C-5A-models, which will be retired in 2017. Once the C-5A aircraft fleet is retired, the Air Force will have a fleet of 49 C-5M aircraft and three C-5B aircraft undergoing modification to the C-5M configuration. The target fleet of 52 C-5Ms will be made up of 49 former C-5B models, two C-5Cs and one C-5A.

The latest configuration, the C-5M Super Galaxy, is equipped with more powerful General Electric CF6-80C2 (F138-GE-100) turbofan engines, each (4 total) providing 50,580 pounds of thrust. The older C-5A/B/C models are powered by four General Electric TF39-GE-1C turbofan engines with 43,000 pounds of thrust each.

The C-5M modernization program upgraded older C-5A/B/Cs to the C-5M configuration. The C-5M provides greatly improved reliability, efficiency, and maintainability and thus, reduces operating costs and has abled the C-5 to remain in service with the U.S. Air Force well into the 21st century (estimate is 2040 and beyond). The C-5M Super Galaxy is the result of a two-phase modernization effort featuring the Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) and the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program (RERP).

Completed in 2011, the AMP installed a cutting-edge glass cockpit with a digital all-weather flight control system and autopilot; a new communications suite; flat-panel displays; and enhanced navigation and safety equipment. Enhancements such as the integrated datalink capabilities, predictive flight performance cues, situational awareness displays, and an improved Ground Proximity Warning System greatly enhance situational awareness and reduce crew workload.

The RERP installed new General Electric CF6-80C2 turbofan engines (+22% thrust) and provided for 70 other enhancements to major components and subsystems. The RERP significantly improves reliability, maintainability, operational performance, and fuel efficiency (8−20% reduction in consumption); and dramatically reduced operating costs.

The C-5M Super Galaxy has a 58% faster climb rate, a 30% shorter takeoff roll, and a 30% higher cruise than the current C-5 (A, B, and C models). This allows the C-5M to carry significantly more cargo from more airfields, over greater distances, and with reduced dependency on aerial refueling.




The C-5 aircraft is a heavy cargo transport aircraft designed to provide strategic inter-theater airlift for deployment and supply of combat and support forces. It can carry fully equipped combat-ready troops to any area in the world on short notice and provide full field support necessary to maintain a fighting force.

FY 2017 & FY 2018 - C-5 DoD Program:

This data is available in Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, a comprehensive analytical database containing historical and forecast budget figures, year-to-year funding comparisons, congressional budget markups, program justification documents, and much more.

Sources: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Lockheed Martin Corp.,
and General Electric Co.

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