Lockheed Martin expects by mid-February to issue competing powerplant manufacturers with a request for proposals (RFP) for over 500 new engines for the US Air Force's C-5A/B Galaxy heavylift transports, following final approval of an acquisition strategy for the planned Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Programme (RERP).

"We expect to be put on contract for pre-EMD [engineering and manufacturing development] during the February timeframe. We also plan to release the RFP for the engine by mid-month and could downselect by the mid-May timeframe. We then expect to be on contract for EMD in October/ November," says William Arndt, Lockheed Martin C-5 programme director.

The company had hoped to initiate the engine competition last September, but has been delayed while Air Mobility Command completed an analysis of alternatives study in December and the Department of Defense developed an acquisition plan and programme milestones. An initial $18 million in long-lead funding has been included in this year's budget (Flight International, October 27-2 November) and another $50 million is being sought in 2001.

Lockheed Martin plans to modify two C-5Bs and one C-5A during EMD, once the aircraft have completed an ongoing, separate, avionics modernisation. It is understood that the RERP will start with the 50 C-5Bs, re-engining eight to 10 aircraft a year from 2005. The results will form the basis of an evaluation in 2008 on whether to modify the 75 C-5As.

Aside from mission availability rates, the other major factor in the C-5A decision will be money and the competing claims to fund the Boeing C-17 Globemaster and Lockheed Martin C-130JHercules programmes. C-17 acquisition rates were slowed recently to free funding for C-130Js, although it is planned to restore the budget later. The RERP programme is targeting a budget of $45 million an aircraft, or $5.67 billion for all 126 transports, and has set a maximum of $55 million per C-5.

The RFP calls for a derated 60,000lb-thrust (266.67kN) class engine flat rated to 50,000lb at 95°C. General Electric plans to offer the CF6-80C2 and Pratt & Whitney the PW4168, while Rolls-Royce is considering the Trent 500 and the lower cost option - a 43,000lb-thrust RB211-535-E4D. The contract will be for up to 504 engines plus spares.

Source: Flight International