Lockheed Martin has received a $1.1 billion contract to begin system development and demonstration (SDD) of the C-5A/B Galaxy Reliability Enhancement and Re-engineering Programme (RERP). However, to reduce risk the US Air Force has added additional test aircraft to the programme and will delay production until 2007.

Under a revised "fly before you buy" acquisition, the USAF has stretched development and is seeking improved reliability before committing to re-engining an initial 50 C-5Bs at a cost of $55 million each. The first General Electric CF6-80C2L1F powered transport is due to fly in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2005, but production upgrades will not start before early 2007 with first deliveries at the end of the following year.

SDD will involve four development C-5Bs, an increase of two, but only two of which will be flight tested. The contract also covers engineering work to re-engine and upgrade the C-5A, but no actual development testing. Lockheed is hoping to persuade the air force to substitute an older model for one the four C-5Bs in an effort to better prepare the USAF to decide on the modernisation of 76 C-5As.

The first aircraft to be re-engined will have already undergone an avionics modernisation, giving the C-5 a new Honeywell glass cockpit. The RERP preliminary design review is set for late next year and a critical design review one year later.

Source: Flight International