The US Air Force wants to start retiring its eight worst-performing Lockheed Martin C-5A Galaxy strategic transports, but is still awaiting Congressional approval.

USAF officials have yet to be be notified that they are legally allowed to retire the 59-aircraft C-5A fleet, despite a notice issued by the US Senate on 10 September that a five-year-old ban on retiring the type had been lifted.

"We don't have permission yet," says Gen Arthur Lichte, chief of Air Mobility Command.

Lockheed executives also are not aware of any legal changes granting the USAF authority to retire C-5As.

"I don't think we have seen anything that would tell us the situation has changed," says Jim Grant, Lockheed's vice-president for business development.

C-5A - USAF 
© US Air Force
Uncertainty surrounds the legality of retiring the USAF's worst-performing C-5A Galaxys

In their earlier statement, Senate appropriators said they had notified the White House that the retirement ban had been removed. However, it was not immediately clear if the House of Representatives or other Senate committees had endorsed the action.

The status of the C-5A fleet has become complicated as Congress continues to add funds for more Boeing C-17s.

The USAF stopped requesting funds for more C-17s after completing orders for the first 180 in 2007. Congress has added funds to buy 33 more C-17s over the last four years, and is considering a new proposal to buy between three and 10 more airlifters.

Lichte wants to retire one C-5A for every C-17 added beyond 205 aircraft.

The USAF wants to maintain a fleet of at least 52 C-5Ms, which means converting all C-5Bs and C-5Cs, plus one C-5A, through the re-engining and reliability enhancement programme, Lichte says. The service's current oldest A-model aircraft were delivered during 1971, according to Flight's MiliCAS database.

Source: Flight International