On August 2, Lockheed Martin released the 52nd C-5 Galaxy to undergo a Reliability Enhancement and Re-Engining Program (RERP) with the US Air Force. After completing the program, aircraft become known as the C-5 Super Galaxy. This is the last aircraft to be handed over for upgrading, officially finishing the C-5 update program. With the RERP complete, the Air Force’s C-5Ms are expected to serve into the 2040s.
The last C-5M was flown from Lockheed Martin’s facility in Marietta, Georgia, where it went through a structural and engine enhancement, to Stewart Air Force Base in New York. There, it will receive an interior paint overhaul before being delivered to the Air Force Reserve Command base at Westover Air Reserve Base in Massachusetts. The aircraft will be operated by the 439th Airlift Wing.
“This is a huge milestone for our community. We have been modifying our C-5s through this RERP program for about 10 years now, and the results are staggering,” said Randy Hildebrandt, the C-5M project manager at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. “Reliability is up, the aircraft is not breaking as often and the aircraft is able to get to its objective faster – often without having to stop for fuel and crew rest.
“We are carefully planning how to continue modifying the aircraft with new parts and new capabilities that will take the aircraft to its full retirement age – it’s going to be around for a while yet.”
The RERP program, in addition to approving reliability, increases the C-5’s carrying capacity and communication, navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management capabilities. The new engines, General Electric TF39s, provide 22% more thrust than the originals, allowing for improvements in takeoff performance and climb rate while also providing for a more economical cruise. TF39s are in line with FAA Stage 4 noise requirements
Besides the engines, changes were made to the airframe structure, landing gear, and flight controls in addition to environmental, pneumatic, fuel, hydraulic, and electrical systems.
The C-5 Galaxy first took flight on June 30, 1968. It is the largest airlifter in the Air Force’s fleet and has flown in every American conflict since the Vietnam War. In addition to a host of other things, the C-5 can deliver personnel, emergency supplies, medicine, and trucks.
Lockheed Martin began studying a C-5 RERP upgrade program in 2001, and the first development C-5M flew in 2007.
The C-5 has set 89 aviation-related world records.
Featured image by Lockheed Martin