The US military could juggle its mix of strategic airlift and sealift resources based on the results of a mobility capabilities study due to be launched later this month, but the fate of the Lockheed Martin C-5A Galaxy fleet could be disclosed this week.

The US Air Force plans to report to Congress on the results of a Fleet Viability Board review of the ageing fleet of 74 C-5As, which began last summer. The board is to review the air force's oldest aircraft types and judge whether they are fit to continue service.

A decision in favour of grounding the C-5As is considered unlikely, but any negative findings could imperil a Lockheed Martin proposal to extend a re-engining programme for 50 C-5Bs to the older section of the fleet.

One C-5A is being re-engined under the reliability enhancement and re-engining programme (RERP) as a test case, but the air force has resisted bids to broaden the effort.

The first C-5B will start to be modified to the RERP configuration in September, says Lockheed Martin, and first flight is scheduled 13 months later. Meanwhile, the air force is developing the final software block for the C-5A/B avionics modernisation programme.

However, the overall mix of C-5s and Boeing C-17 Globemasters will be reviewed again under the Mobility Capabilities Study, which is being led by the Pentagon's Joint Staff and the US Transportation Command.

The study will examine proposals to expand the C-17 fleet from 180 to 222 or even further, while holding the C-5A/B fleet intact or reducing it.



Source: Flight International