Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy upgrade gathers momentum

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Lockheed Martin's first C-5M Super Galaxy, a modernised, re-engined ver­sion of the US Air Force's heavy­lift workhorse, is having a rough ride during taxi tests at Edwards AFB in California - by design.

Ship 99, a former C-5B, is in the midst of the month-long test at Edwards, where it is being deliberately driven over a rough surface as part of dynamic taxi testing to check the integrity of the vehicle after the substantial modifications.

The upgrades are part of the C-5 reliability enhancement and re-engining programme (RERP), now in system development and demonstration (SDD). Included are new General Electric CF6-80C2 engines, auxiliary power unit, throttle quadrant, flight-control actuators, landing-gear hydraulic controls and anti-skid protection.

The goal is to replace elements of the C-5 that have been problematic in mission reliability, says Ray Burick, C-5M programme director for Lockheed. Combining RERP with an associated avionics modernisation programme (AMP) upgrade, the USAF plans to boost its mission-capable rate for the transport to 75%, up 10 points from the mission-capable rate before AMP installations began. The SDD is expected to be complete in late 2007 or early 2008.

Sixteen C-5 AMP aircraft so far have been delivered to the fleet. The $4 million retrofit kit includes a glass cockpit with new navigation system and autopilot, as well as CNS/ATM certification.

Lockheed has a $1 billion contract from the air force for the RERP SDD, which includes modifying and testing three aircraft - two B models and one A model. Ship 99, the first RERP C-5, first flew on 19 June and has logged 35h of flight time. The USAF plans to upgrade all 111 C-5s in the fleet. Current plans call for RERP on 12 aircraft a year, starting with the -B models.

The air force predicts a $20 billion reduction in operation and support costs and $11 billion in total ownership costs over the life of the aircraft by incorporating AMP and RERP.