The US Air Force plans to re-engine its fleet of 126 Lockheed Martin C-5A/B transports, following the award of an initial $451 million upgrade contract to Lockheed Martin and Honeywell to modernise the aircraft's cockpit avionics.

The USAF is seeking funding in 2000 for a C-5 Reliability Enhancement Programme, focusing principally on replacing the transport's General Electric TF39-IC turbofan, at an estimated total cost of $4 billion.

Industry officials anticipate a draft request for proposals by mid-year and the award of a contract by the end of 1999. Lockheed Martin has announced it will team with General Electric to offer the CF6-80C2, flat rated at 50,000lb-thrust (222kN). Lockheed Martin estimates the new engine will extend average on-wing time from the existing TF39's 1,100h to "the 10-12,000h range"

Pratt & Whitney intends to enter the competition with its proposed PW4650, similarly flat rated at 50,000lb, but has not selected an airframe partner. "The air force is talking about a teaming concept. We intend to be the engine provider," says P&W. Rolls-Royce has yet to decide how to respond.

Lockheed Martin and Honeywell plan to start ground and flight testing of the first modified C-5 Galaxy by mid-2000, after winning the Avionics Modernisation Programme (AMP).

Improvements will include a new digital all-weather flight control system and six new liquid crystal displays.

The replacement communication/navigation package will include global positioning, satcom and VHF datalink for CNS/ATM compatibility. The new package will be integrated with a traffic alert and collision avoidance system Lockheed Martin is planning for an engineering programme which will last about 12 months at its Marietta plant.

The C-5 fleet will be fitted with the new avionics at USAF facilities by Lockheed Martin field teams, with first deliveries scheduled to start in mid-2001.

Source: Flight International