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Lockheed C-5 Galaxy

C-5 Galaxy
Top view of four-engine jet transport in-flight above mountain range.
A United States Air Force C-5 in-flight
Role Strategic airlifter
National origin United States
Manufacturer Lockheed Corporation
Lockheed Martin
First flight 30 June 1968[1]
Introduction June 1970
Status In service
Primary user United States Air Force
Produced C-5A: 1968–1973
C-5B: 1985–1989
Number built 131 (C-5A: 81, C-5B: 50)
Unit cost
C-5A: US$152.8 million (1998)
C-5B: US$179 million (1998)
C-5C: US$88 million (1998)
C-5M: US$90 million (2009)[2]

The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is a large military transport aircraft originally designed and built by Lockheed, and now maintained and upgraded by its successor, Lockheed Martin. It provides the United States Air Force (USAF) with a heavy intercontinental-range strategic airlift capability, one that can carry outsize and oversize loads, including all air-certifiable cargo. The Galaxy has many similarities to its smaller Lockheed C-141 Starlifter predecessor, and the later Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. The C-5 is among the largest military aircraft in the world.

The C-5 Galaxy had a complicated development; significant cost overruns were experienced and Lockheed suffered significant financial difficulties. Shortly after entering service, fractures in the wings of many aircraft were discovered and the C-5 fleet was restricted in capability until corrective work was performed. The C-5M Super Galaxy is an upgraded version with new engines and modernized avionics designed to extend its service life beyond 2040.

The C-5 Galaxy has been operated by USAF since 1969. In that time, it has been used to support US military operations in all major conflicts including Vietnam, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan; as well as in support of allies, such as Israel during the Yom Kippur War and operations in the Gulf War. The C-5 has also been used to distribute humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and supported the US Space Shuttle program run by NASA.


  • Development 1
    • CX-X and Heavy Logistics System 1.1
    • Into production 1.2
    • Continued production and development 1.3
  • Design 2
    • Overview 2.1
  • Operational history 3
  • Variants 4
    • C-5A 4.1
    • C-5B 4.2
    • C-5C 4.3
    • C-5 AMP and C-5M Super Galaxy 4.4
    • L-500 4.5
    • C-5 Shuttle Carrier 4.6
  • Operators 5
  • Incidents and accidents 6
    • Notable accidents 6.1
  • Aircraft on display 7
  • Specifications (C-5B) 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
    • Notes 10.1
    • Citations 10.2
    • Bibliography 10.3
  • External links 11


CX-X and Heavy Logistics System

In 1961, several aircraft companies began studying heavy jet transport designs that would replace the Douglas C-133 Cargomaster and complement Lockheed C-141 Starlifters. In addition to higher overall performance, the United States Army wanted a transport aircraft with a larger cargo bay than the C-141, whose interior was too small to carry a variety of their outsized equipment. These studies led to the "CX-4" design concept, but in 1962 the proposed six-engine design was rejected, because it was not viewed as a significant advance over the C-141.[3] By late 1963, the next conceptual design was named CX-X. It was equipped with four engines, instead of six engines in the earlier CX-4 concept. The CX-X had a gross weight of 550,000 pounds (249,000 kg), a maximum payload of 180,000 lb (81,600 kg) and a speed of Mach 0.75 (500 mph or 805 km/h). The cargo compartment was 17.2 ft (5.24 m) wide by 13.5 feet (4.11 m) high and 100 ft (30.5 m) long with front and rear access doors.[3] To meet the power and range specifications with only four engines required a new engine with dramatically improved fuel efficiency.

"We started to build the C-5 and wanted to build the biggest thing we could... Quite frankly, the C-5 program was a great contribution to commercial aviation. We'll never get credit for it, but we incentivized that industry by developing [the TF39] engine."

General Duane H. Cassidy, former MAC Commander in Chief[4]

The criteria were finalized and an official request for proposal was issued in April 1964 for the "Heavy Logistics System" (CX-HLS) (previously CX-X). In May 1964, proposals for aircraft were received from Boeing, Douglas, General Dynamics, Lockheed, and Martin Marietta. General Electric, Curtiss-Wright, and Pratt & Whitney submitted proposals for the engines. After a downselect, Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed were given one-year study contracts for the airframe, along with General Electric and Pratt & Whitney for the engines.[5] All three of the designs shared a number of features; all three placed the cockpit well above the cargo area to allow for cargo loading through a nose door. The Boeing and Douglas designs used a pod on the top of the fuselage containing the cockpit, while the Lockheed design extended the cockpit profile down the length of the fuselage, giving it an egg-shaped cross section. All of the designs had swept wings, as well as front and rear cargo doors allowing simultaneous loading and unloading. Lockheed's design featured a T-tail, while the designs by Boeing and Douglas had conventional tails.[6]

The Air Force considered Boeing's design to be better than that of Lockheed, but Lockheed's proposal was the lowest total cost bid.[7] Lockheed was selected the winner in September 1965, then awarded a contract in December 1965.[6][8] General Electric's TF39 engine was selected in August 1965 to power the new transport plane.[6] At the time GE's engine concept was revolutionary, as all engines beforehand had a bypass ratio of less than two-to-one, while the TF39 promised and would achieve a ratio of eight-to-one, which had the benefits of increased engine thrust and lower fuel consumption.[9][10]

Into production

The first C-5A Galaxy (

  • C-5 A/B/C Galaxy and C-5M Super Galaxy U.S. Air Force fact sheet
  • C-5M page on
  • C-5 Galaxy page on
  • "Fatigue and Related Human Factors in the Near Crash of a Large Military Aircraft". Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, Volume 77, Number 9, September 2006, pp. 963–970.

External links

  • Aging of U.S. Air Force Aircraft: Final Report. Washington, D.C.: National Research Council, National Academies, 1997.
  • Bakse, Colin. Airlift Tanker: History of U.S. Airlift and Tanker Forces. New York: Turner Publishing, 1995. ISBN 1-56311-125-X.
  • Chant, Christopher. Air War in the Gulf 1991. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84176-295-4.
  • Dunstan, Simon. The Yom Kippur War: the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2007. ISBN 1-84603-288-1.
  • "The Giants of Georgia". Air International, Vol. 26, No. 2, February 1984, pp. 61–68, 87–90. ISSN 0306-5634.
  • Government Accountability Office. Military Readiness: DOD Needs to Identify and Address Gaps and Potential Risks in Program Strategies and Funding Priorities for Selected Equipment. Darby, Pennsylvania: DIANE Publishing, 2006. ISBN 1-4223-0444-2.
  • Improving Strategic Mobility: The C-17 Program and Alternatives. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Budget Office, United States Congress, September 1986. ISBN 1-4379-0071-2.
  • Irving, Clive. Wide Body: The Triumph of the 747. New York: W. Morrow, 1993. ISBN 0-688-09902-5.
  • Jenkins, Dannis J. Lockheed Secret Projects: Inside the Skunk Works. St. Paul, Minnesota: Zenith Imprint, 2001. ISBN 0-7603-0914-0.
  • Miller, David. Conflict Iraq: Weapons and Tactics of the US and Iraqi Forces. St. Paul, Minnesota: Zenith Imprint, 2003. ISBN 0-7603-1592-2.
  • Nalty, Bernard C. Winged Shield, Winged Sword 1950–1997: A History of the United States Air Force. Minerva Group, 2003. ISBN 1-4102-0902-4.
  • Lippincott, Richard. C-5 Galaxy in Action. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 2006. ISBN 0-89747-504-6.
  • Norton, Bill. Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy. North Branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press, 2003. ISBN 1-58007-061-2.
  • Philips, Warren F. Mechanics of Flight. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, 2004. ISBN 0-471-33458-8.
  • Reed, Chris. Lockheed C-5 Galaxy. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-7643-1205-7.
  • Tillman, Barrett. .What We Need: Extravagance and Shortages in America's Military Zenith Imprint, 2007. ISBN −076032-869-2.
  • Veronico, Nick and Jim Dunn. 21st Century U.S. Air Power. St. Paul, Minnesota: Zenith Imprint, 2004. ISBN 0-7603-2014-4.


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  96. ^ Upgraded C-5M Super Galaxies gain IOC designation -, 24 February 2014
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  1. ^ sometimes written as "fantastic"[48][49]



Related lists
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

See also

  • Maximum speed: Mach 0.79 (503 kn, 579 mph, 932 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: Mach 0.77 (496 kn, 571 mph, 919 km/h)
  • Range: 2,400 nmi (2,760 mi, 4,440 km) with a 263,200 lb (119,400 kg) payload
  • Service ceiling: 35,700 ft (10,600 m) at 615,000 lb (279,000 kg) gross weight
  • Rate of climb: 1,800 ft/min (9.14 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 120 lb/ft2 (610 kg/m2)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.22
  • Takeoff roll: 8,400 ft (2,600 m)
  • Landing roll: 3,600 ft (1,100 m)
  • Fuel capacity: 51,150 US gal (193,600 L)


  • Crew: 7 typical (aircraft commander, pilot, two flight engineers, three loadmasters)
    4 minimum (pilot, copilot, two flight engineers)
  • Payload: 270,000 lb (122,470 kg)
  • Length: 247 ft 1 in (75.31 m)
  • Wingspan: 222 ft 9 in (67.89 m)
  • Height: 65 ft 1 in (19.84 m)
  • Wing area: 6,200 ft2 (576 m2)
  • Empty weight: 380,000 lb (172,370 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 769,000 lb (348,800 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 840,000 lb (381,000 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 × General Electric TF39-GE-1C high-bypass turbofan, 43,000 lbf (190 kN) each
General characteristics

Data from Quest for Performance,[115] International Directory of Military Aircraft,[116] and USAF fact sheet[83]

A General Electric TF39 turbofan engine
A detail of the C-5's nose assembly raised for loading and unloading.

Specifications (C-5B)

C-5A, AF Ser. No. 69-0014, is on display at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. This is the first, and currently only, C-5 aircraft to go on museum display.[113][114]

Aircraft on display

  • On 27 May 1970, C-5A AF serial number 67-0172 was destroyed during a ground fire at Palmdale, California after an Air Turbine Motor (ATM) started backwards and quickly overheated, setting the hydraulic system on fire and quickly consuming the aircraft. The engines were not running at the time of the fire. Five crew escaped, and seven firefighters suffered minor injuries fighting the blaze.[100][101]
  • On 17 October 1970, C-5A AF Ser. No. 66-8303 was destroyed during a ground fire at the Lockheed Aircraft plant at [101]
  • On 27 September 1974, C-5A 68-0227 crashed after over-running the runway at Clinton, Oklahoma Municipal Airport during an emergency landing following a serious landing gear fire. The crew mistakenly aligned the aircraft for the visual approach into the wrong airport, landing at Clinton Municipal Airport, which has a 4,400 ft (1,300 m) runway—instead of the airfield at Clinton-Sherman Industrial Airpark (former Clinton-Sherman AFB), which has a 13,500 ft (4,100 m) runway. This was the first operational loss of a C-5 Galaxy.[101]
  • On 4 April 1975, C-5A 68-0218 crashed while carrying orphans out of Vietnam during Operation Babylift. This crash is one of the most notorious C-5 accidents to date.[53] The crash occurred while trying to make an emergency landing at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Saigon, following a rear pressure door lock failure in flight.[101][102] 144 people (including 78 children) were killed out of the 313 aboard (243 children, 44 escorts, 16 flight crew and 10 medical crew).[54] Use of the C-5 was heavily restricted for several months following this high profile accident.[103]
  • On 31 July 1983, C-5A 70-0446 crashed on landing at [104]
  • In July 1985, C-5A 68-0216 landed gear up at Travis Air Force Base, California. There were no injuries. The accident occurred while the crew was performing touch-and-go landings, and did not lower the landing gear during the final approach of the day. The aircraft received significant damage to the lower fuselage and main landing gear pods. The C-5A was later flown to Marietta for repairs. While there, the aircraft was selected to be the first C-5A converted to the C-5C configuration.[105]
  • On 29 August 1990, C-5A 68-0228 crashed following an engine failure shortly after take-off. The aircraft took off from Ramstein Air Base in Germany in support of Operation Desert Shield. It was flown by a nine-member reserve crew from the 68th Airlift Squadron, 433rd Airlift Wing based at Kelly AFB, Texas.[106] As the aircraft started to climb off the runway, one of the thrust reversers suddenly deployed. This resulted in loss of control of the aircraft and the subsequent crash. Of the 17 people on board, only four survived the crash.[107] All four were in the rear troop compartment. The sole crew member to survive, Staff Sgt. Lorenzo Galvan, Jr., was awarded the Airman's Medal for his actions in evacuating the survivors from the wreckage.[101]
  • On 3 April 2006, C-5B 84-0059 crashed following a cockpit indication that a thrust reverser was not locked. The C-5B assigned to the 436th Airlift Wing and flown by a reserve crew from the 709th Airlift Squadron, 512th Airlift Wing crashed about 2,000 ft (610 m) short of the runway while attempting a heavyweight emergency landing at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The aircraft had taken off from Dover 21 minutes earlier and reported an in-flight emergency 10 minutes into the flight. All 17 people aboard survived, but two received serious injuries. The Air Force's accident investigation board report concluded the cause to be human error, most notably the crew had been manipulating the throttle of the (dead) number two engine as if it was still running while keeping the (live) number three engine at idle. The situation was further worsened by the crew's decision to use a high flap setting that increased drag beyond normal two engine capabilities.[108][109] The aircraft was one of the first to receive the new avionics and glass flight displays for C-5 avionics modernization program (AMP).[110] This accident led to a redesign of the cockpit engine displays, particularly the visual indicators of a non-active engine.[111] The aircraft was a complete hull-loss and the airframe scrapped, but the forward fuselage became a C-5 AMP test bed.[112]

Notable accidents

There have been five C-5 Galaxy aircraft lost in crashes along with two class-A losses resulting from ground fire and one loss resulting from damage sustained on the ground, with a combined total of 169 fatalities. There have been at least two other C-5 crashes that resulted in major airframe damage, but the aircraft were repaired and returned to service.

The flight deck from the C-5B crash at Dover AFB in April 2006 being loaded into another C-5
Emergency responders at the scene of a C-5B crash at Dover AFB, Delaware, April 2006
C-5A after crash landing at Shemya AFB, Alaska, July 1983

Incidents and accidents

167th Airlift Squadron, 2006-15
155th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 2004-13
137th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1985-2012

Air National Guard

326th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1973-2007
709th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1973-
  • 512th Military Airlift Wing/Airlift Wing(Associate) - Dover Air Force Base, Delaware
89th Airlift Squadron, 2006-12
337th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1987-
68th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1985-
356th Airlift Squadron, 2007-
  • 433d Military Airlift Wing/Airlift Wing - Kelly/Lackland Air Force Base, Texas
301st Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1973-2006
312th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1973-
  • 349th Military Airlift Wing/Air Mobility Wing(Associate) - Travis Air Force Base, California

Air Force Reserve

56th Airlift Squadron, 1992-2007

Air Education & Training Command

56th Military Airlift Squadron, 1969-92
3d Military Airlift Squadron, 1970-73
3d Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1973-2007
9th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1971-
31st Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1989-94
21st Airlift Squadron, 1993-2006
22nd Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1972-
75th Military Airlift Squadron, 1970-92
The 60th AMW operates the 2 C-5Cs for NASA. C-5C 68-0213 is undergoing RERP modifications, leaving one available.

Military Airlift Command / Air Mobility Command

The C-5 is limited to military and government use. The U.S. Air Force has 71 C-5s in service as of February 2014 and plans to reduce the fleet to 52 "M" models by 2017.[99]

United States Air Force

 United States
A C-5 Galaxy from the Air Force Reserve Command's 433rd Airlift Wing
People in line to enter the 445th Airlift Wing's first C-5A Galaxy in 2005


Lockheed proposed a twin body C-5 as a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft to counter the Conroy Virtus, but the design was turned down.

C-5 Shuttle Carrier

Lockheed also planned a civilian version of the C-5 Galaxy, the L-500, the company designation also used for the C-5 itself. Both passenger and cargo versions of the L-500 were designed. The all-passenger version would have been able to carry up to 1,000 travelers, while the all-cargo version was predicted to be able to carry typical C-5 volume for as little as 2 cents per ton-mile (in 1967 dollars).[97] Although some interest was expressed by carriers, no orders were placed for either L-500 version, due to operational costs caused by low fuel efficiency, a significant concern for a profit-making carrier, even before the oil crisis of the 1970s, keen competition from Boeing's 747, and high costs incurred by Lockheed in developing the C-5 and later, the L-1011 which led to the governmental rescue of the company.[98]


The Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program (RERP) began in 2006. It includes new General Electric F138-GE-100 (CF6-80C2) engines, pylons and auxiliary power units, upgrades to aircraft skin and frame, landing gear, cockpit and pressurization systems.[40][92] The CF6 engine produces 22% more thrust (for 50,000 lbf or 220 kN) from each engine,[93] providing a 30% shorter takeoff, a 38% higher climb rate to initial altitude, an increased cargo load and a longer range.[40][94] Upgraded C-5s are designated C-5M Super Galaxy.[95] The C-5M reached initial operating capability (IOC) on 24 February 2014 with 16 aircraft delivered.[96]

Following a study showing 80% of the C-5 airframe service life remaining,[90] AMC began an aggressive program to modernize all remaining C-5Bs and C-5Cs and many of the C-5As. The C-5 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) began in 1998 and includes upgrading avionics to Global Air Traffic Management compliance, improving communications, new flat panel displays, improving navigation and safety equipment, and installing a new autopilot system. The first flight of a C-5 with AMP (85-0004) occurred on 21 December 2002.[91]

New C-5 cockpit avionics, installed under the Avionics Modernization Program

C-5 AMP and C-5M Super Galaxy

The C-5C is a specially modified variant for transporting large cargo. Two C-5s (68-0213 and 68-0216) were modified to have a larger internal cargo capacity to accommodate large payloads, such as satellites. The major modifications were the removal of the rear passenger compartment floor, splitting the rear cargo door in the middle, and installing a new movable aft bulkhead further to the rear.[88] The official C-5 technical manual refers to the version as C-5A(SCM) Space Cargo Modified. Modifications also included adding a second inlet for ground power, which can feed any power-dependent equipment that may form part of the cargo. The two C-5Cs are operated by U.S. Air Force crews for NASA, and are stationed at Travis AFB, California.[89] Both 68-0213 and 68-0216 completed the Avionics Modernization Program by January 2007. 68-0213 is being upgraded in RERP to the C-5M (SCM) standard.


The C-5B is an improved version of the C-5A. It incorporated all modifications and improvements made to the C-5A with improved wings, simplified landing gear, upgraded TF-39-GE-1C turbofan engines and updated avionics. 50 of the new variant were delivered to the U.S. Air Force from 1986 to 1989.[86][87]


The C-5A is the original version of the C-5. From 1969 to 1973, 81 C-5As were delivered to U.S. Air Force bases. Due to cracks found in the wings in the mid-1970s, the cargo weight was restricted. To restore the C-5's full capability, the wing structure was redesigned. A program to install new strengthened wings on 77 C-5As was conducted from 1981 to 1987. The redesigned wing made use of a new aluminum alloy that did not exist during the original production.[85]

Instrument panel of a C-5A



On 13 September 2009, a C-5M set 41 new records; flight data was submitted to the National Aeronautic Association for formal recognition. The C-5M had carried a payload of 176,610 lb (80,110 kg) to over 41,100 ft (12,500 m) in 23 minutes, 59 seconds. Additionally, 33 time to climb records at various payload classes were set, and the world record for greatest payload to 6,562 ft (2,000 m) was broken. The aircraft was in the category of 551,160 to 661,390 lb (250,000 to 300,000 kg) with a takeoff weight of 649,680 lb (294,690 kg) including payload, fuel, and other equipment.[84]

The U.S. Air Force began to receive refitted C-5M aircraft in December 2008.[78] Full production of C-5Ms began in the summer of 2009.[79] In 2009, the Congressional ban on the retirement of C-5s was overturned.[80] The Air Force seeks to retire one C-5A for each 10 new C-17s ordered.[81] In October 2011, the 445th Airlift Wing based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base retired or reassigned all of its remaining C-5s; it has since reequipped with C-17s.[82] Sixteen C-5M aircraft have been delivered as of December 2013.[83] The C-5Ms have been delivered late from the production schedule due to unspecified complications.

In response to Air Force motions towards the retirement of the C-5 Galaxy, Congress implemented legislation that placed set limits upon retirement plans for C-5A models in 2003.[76] As of November 2013, 45 C-5As have been retired; 11 have been scrapped, parts of one (A/C 66-8306) are now a cargo load trainer at Lackland AFB, Texas and one was sent to the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center (WR-ALC) for tear down and inspection to evaluate structural integrity and estimate the remaining life for the fleet.[77]

A C-5 taking off from Robins AFB

The C-5 AMP and RERP modernization programs plan to raise mission-capable rate to a minimum goal of 75%.[40] Over the next 40 years, the U.S. Air Force estimates the C-5M will save over $20 billion.[73] The first C-5M conversion was completed on 16 May 2006; C-5Ms began test flights at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in June 2006.[73] The USAF decided to convert remaining C-5Bs and C-5Cs into C-5Ms with avionics upgrades and re-engining in February 2008.[74] The C-5As will receive only the avionics upgrades.[74][75]

The wings on the C-5As were replaced during the 1980s to restore full design capability.[28] The USAF took delivery of the first C-5B on 28 December 1985 and the final one in April 1989.[69] The reliability of the C-5 fleet has been a continued issue throughout its lifetime,[70][71] however the C-5M upgrade program seeks in part to address this issue.[40] Their strategic airlift capacity has been a key logistical component of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq; following an incident during Operation Iraqi Freedom where one C-5 was damaged by a projectile, the installation of defensive systems has become a stated priority.[72]

The C-5 has been used for several unusual functions; during the development of the secretive stealth fighter, the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, Galaxies were often used to carry partly disassembled aircraft, leaving no exterior signs as to their cargo.[62] It remains the largest aircraft to ever operate in the Antarctic;[63] Williams Field near McMurdo Station is capable of handling C-5 aircraft, the first of which landed there in 1989.[64] The C-5 Galaxy was a major supply asset in the international coalition operations in 1990-91 against Iraq in the Gulf War.[65][66][67] C-5s have routinely delivered relief aid and humanitarian supplies to areas afflicted with natural disasters or crisis, multiple flights were made over Rwanda in 1994.[68]

C-5A Minuteman Air Mobile ICBM Feasibility Demonstration – 24 October 1974

On 24 October 1974, the Space and Missile Systems Organization successfully conducted an Air Mobile Feasibility Test where a C-5A Galaxy aircraft air dropped an 86,000 lb Minuteman ICBM from 20,000 ft over the Pacific Ocean. The missile descended to 8,000 ft before its rocket engine fired. The 10-second engine burn carried the missile to 20,000 ft again before it dropped into the ocean. The test proved the feasibility of launching an intercontinental ballistic missile from the air. Operational deployment was discarded due to engineering and security difficulties, though the capability was used as a negotiating point in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.[59][60] Aircraft 69-0014, "Zero-One-Four" used in the test was retired to the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base.[61]

C-5s have also been used to deliver support and reinforce various US allies over the years. During the Yom Kippur war in 1973, multiple C-5s and C-141 Starlifters delivered critical supplies of ammunition, replacement weaponry and other forms of aid to Israel, the US effort was named as Operation Nickel Grass.[55][56] The C-5 Galaxy's performance in Israel was such that the Pentagon began to consider further purchases.[57] The C-5 was regularly made available to support American allies, such as the British-led peacekeeper initiative in Zimbabwe in 1979.[58]

The first C-5A was delivered to the USAF on 17 December 1969. Wings were built up in the early 1970s at Altus AFB, Oklahoma; Charleston AFB, South Carolina; Dover AFB, Delaware; and Travis AFB, California. The C-5's first mission was on 9 July 1970, in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.[51] C-5s were used to transport equipment and troops, including Army tanks and even some small aircraft, throughout the later years of the US action in Vietnam.[52] In the final weeks of the war, prior to the Fall of Saigon, several C-5s were involved in evacuation efforts; during one such mission a C-5A crashed while transporting a large number of orphans, with over 140 killed.[53][54]

Personnel unload cargo from a C-5 Galaxy at Pegasus Field, an ice runway near McMurdo Station, Antarctica in 1989.

Operational history

The Galaxy C-5 is capable of moving nearly every type of military combat equipment, including such bulky items as the Army armored vehicle launched bridge (AVLB), at 74 short tons (67 t) , from the United States to any location on the globe;[45] and of accommodating up to six Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters or five Bradley Fighting Vehicles at one time.[29]

The cargo compartment is 121 ft (37 m) long, 13.5 ft (4.1 m) high, and 19 ft (5.8 m) wide, or just over 31,000 cu ft (880 m3). It can accommodate up to 36 463L master pallets or a mix of palletized cargo and vehicles. The nose and aft cargo-bay doors open the full width and height of the cargo bay to maximize efficient loading of oversized equipment. Full width ramps enable loading double rows of vehicles from either end of the cargo hold.[45]

C-5 Galaxy in-flight shortly after taking off

The C-5 features a Malfunction Detection Analysis and Recording (MADAR) system to identify errors throughout the aircraft.

Takeoff and landing distance requirements for the plane at maximum-load gross weight are 8,300 ft (2,500 m) and 4,900 ft (1,500 m), respectively. Its high flotation main landing gear provides 28 wheels to distribute gross weight on paved or earth surfaces. The rear main landing gear can be steered to make a smaller turning radius; it is rotated 90 degrees after takeoff before being retracted. "Kneeling" landing gear permits lowering the aircraft when parked, thereby presenting the cargo deck at truck-bed height to facilitate loading and unloading operations.[50]

Heavy equipment stowed inside a C-5. Aircrew loadmasters ensure cargo is secured and balanced before takeoff.

The cargo hold of the C-5 is one foot longer than the entire length of the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk.[46] But, for its voracious consumption of fuel and its maintenance and reliability issues [47] the Galaxy's aircrews have nicknamed it FRED, for: fucking[N 1] (fantastic, or freaking) ridiculous, economic/environmental disaster.[47]

The C-5 is a large high-wing cargo aircraft with a distinctive high T-tail fin (vertical) stabilizer, and with four TF39 turbofan engines mounted on pylons beneath wings that are swept 25 degrees. Similar in layout to its smaller predecessor, the C-141 Starlifter, the C-5 has 12 internal wing tanks and is equipped for aerial refueling. Above the plane-length cargo deck, it provides an upper deck for flight operations and for seating 75 passengers including the embarked loadmaster crew, all who face to the rear of the aircraft during flight. Full-open(able) bay doors at both nose and tail enable "drive-through" loading and unloading of cargo.[45]



As of 2014 Lockheed is investigating drag reduction by plasma-heating of turbulent transonic airflow in critical points, saving overall weight by reducing fuel consumption. The Air Force Research Laboratory is looking at shape-memory alloy for speed dependent vortex generators.[44]

A total of 52 C-5s are contracted to be modernized, consisting of 49 B-, two C- and one A-model aircraft through the Reliability Enhancement and Re-Engining Program (RERP). The program features over 70 changes and upgrades, including the newer General Electric engines.[41][42] Three C-5s underwent RERP for testing purposes; low-rate initial production started in August 2009 with Lockheed reaching full production in May 2011. 22 C-5M Super Galaxies have been completed as of August 2014.[43] The RERP upgrade program is to be completed in early 2018.

In 1998, the Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) began upgrading the C-5's avionics to include a glass cockpit, navigation equipment, and a new autopilot system.[39] Another part of the C-5 modernization effort is the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program (RERP). The program will mainly replace the engines with newer, more powerful ones.[40]

As part of President Ronald Reagan's military policy, funding was made available for expansion of the USAF's airlift capability. With the C-17 program still some years from completion, Congress approved funding for a new version of the C-5, the C-5B, in July 1982 to expand airlift capacity.[35][36][37] The first C-5B was delivered to Altus Air Force Base in January 1986. In April 1989, the last of 50 C-5B aircraft was added to the 77 C-5As in the Air Force's airlift force structure. The C-5B includes all C-5A improvements and numerous additional system modifications to improve reliability and maintainability.[38]

A Galaxy undergoing the AMP and RERP upgrades, to become a C-5M.

In 1974, Iran, then holding good relations with the United States, offered $160 million to restart C-5 production to enable Iran to purchase aircraft for their own air force;[30][31] in a similar climate as to their acquisition of F-14 Tomcat fighters.[32] However no C-5 aircraft were ever ordered by Iran, as the prospect was firmly halted by the Iranian Revolution in 1979.[33][34]

Continued production and development

During static and fatigue testing cracks were noticed in the wings of several aircraft,[16] and as a consequence the C-5A fleet was restricted to 80% of maximum design loads. To reduce wing loading, load alleviation systems were added to the aircraft.[24] By 1980, payloads were restricted to as low as 50,000 lb (23,000 kg) for general cargo during peacetime operations. A $1.5 billion program, known as H-Mod,[25] to re-wing the 76 completed C-5As to restore full payload capability and service life began in 1976.[26][27] After design and testing of the new wing design, the C-5As received their new wings from 1980 to 1987.[28][29] During 1976, numerous cracks were also found in the fuselage along the upper fuselage on the centerline, aft of the refueling port, extending back to the wing. The cracks required a redesign to the hydraulic system for the visor, the front cargo entry point.

In the early 1970s, NASA considered the C-5 for the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft role, to transport the Space Shuttle to Kennedy Space Center. However, they rejected it in favor of the Boeing 747, in part due to the 747's low-wing design.[22] In contrast, the Soviet Union chose to transport its shuttles using the high-winged An-225,[23] which derives from the An-124, which is similar in design and function to the C-5.

Upon completion of testing in December 1969, the first C-5A was transferred to the Transitional Training Unit at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Lockheed delivered the first operational Galaxy to the 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston Air Force Base, SC, in June 1970. Due to higher than expected development costs, in 1970 there were public calls for the government to split the substantial losses that Lockheed was experiencing.[19] Production was nearly brought to a halt in 1971 due to Lockheed going through financial difficulties, due in part to the C-5 Galaxy's development as well as a civilian jet liner, the Lockheed L-1011.[20] The U.S. government gave loans to Lockheed to keep the company operational.[21]

Cost overruns and technical problems of the C-5A were the subject of a congressional investigation in 1968 and 1969.[14][15] The C-5 program has the dubious distinction of being the first development program with a one billion dollar overrun.[8][16] Due to the C-5's troubled development, the Department of Defense abandoned Total Package Procurement.[17] In 1969 Henry Durham raised concerns about the C-5 production process with Lockheed, his employer; subsequently Durham was transferred and subjected to abuse until he resigned. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) substantiated some of his charges against Lockheed; later the American Ethical Union honored Durham with the Elliott-Black Award.[18]

Four-engine jet transport with dark green and gray paint scheme in-flight above clouds.
The fourth C-5A Galaxy 66-8306 in 1980s European One color scheme

Aircraft weight was a serious issue during design and development. At the time of the first flight, the weight was below the guaranteed weight, but by the time of the delivery of the 9th aircraft, had exceeded guarantees.[12] In July 1969, during a fuselage upbending test, the wing failed at 128% of limit load, which is below the requirement that it sustain 150% of limit load. Changes were made to the wing, but during a test in July 1970, it failed at 125% of limit load. A passive load reduction system, involving uprigged ailerons was incorporated, but the maximum allowable payload was reduced from 220,000 pounds to 190,000 pounds. At the time, it was predicted that there was a 90% probability that no more than 10% of the fleet of 79 airframes would reach their fatigue life of 19,000 hours without cracking of the wing.[12]

"After being one of the worst-run programs, ever, in its early years, it has evolved very slowly and with great difficulty into a nearly adequate strategic airlifter that unfortunately needs in-flight refuelling or a ground stop for even the most routine long-distance flights. We spent a lot of money to make it capable of operating from unfinished airstrips near the front lines, when we never needed that capability or had any intention to use it."

Robert F. Dorr, aviation historian[13]

[12] than predicted by wind tunnel data. The maximum lift coefficient measured in flight with the flaps deflected 40-degree was higher than predicted (2.60 vs. 2.38), but was lower than predicted with the flaps deflected 25 degrees (2.31 vs. 2.38) and with the flaps retracted (1.45 vs. 1.52).drag divergence Mach number". Flight tests revealed that the aircraft exhibited a higher heavy "eight-three-oh-three call sign On 30 June 1968, flight testing of the C-5A began with the first flight, flown by Leo Sullivan, with the [11]

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