Re-engining of the US Air Force's oldest Lockheed C-5 Galaxy strategic airlifters has been cancelled by the US Department of Defense after a steep increase in the project cost of the programme.
The USAF's 62 C-5As will no longer be modernised under the reliability enhancement and re-engining programme (RERP), which replaces the TF39 engines with General Electric CF6-80C2s and upgrades other systems.
Lockheed will still re-engine 47 newer C-5Bs and two C-5Cs operated for NASA. Including three that have already undergone avionics upgrades and re-engining to become C-5M test aircraft, this will give the USAF a total of 52 modernised Galaxys.
Sunset for C-5As? © US Air Force
Cancelling work on the older C-5s will cut the estimated cost of the RERP from $17.5 billion to $7.7 billion, saving $9.8 billion. The projected cost when the 115-aircraft programme started in November 2001 was $11.1 billion.
The US Air Force has been lobbying Congress to permit it to retire the C-5As, which is prohibited by legislation, so that it can buy more Boeing C-17 airlifters. The USAF has not requested any C-17s in its fiscal year 2009 budget, but Congress is expected to add aircraft.
Flight testing of the re-engined C-5B began in June 2006. Designated the F138-100 by the military, the commercial CF6-80C2 turbofan increases the Galaxy's payload and range, reduces its take-off distance and increases its climb rate.
Re-engined C-5M is in test © USAF