National Guard January 2011 : Page 26

Galaxy Behind Fully modernized C-5Ms are now coming off the production line. The Guard could use them, but will have to settle for less By Ron Jensen HE CAVERNOUS HAN-GAR on the Lockheed Martin campus in Mari-etta, Ga., was barely large enough to hold the superlatives flow-ing from the speaker’s platform to describe the C-5M Super Galaxy that stood almost regal-like outside in an early autumn shower. Linchpin of strategic airlift. A game-changer. A paradigm shift. The nation needs the C-5M. After such high praise, one won-ders, is this an airplane or a cheap, renewable fuel source? When Lockheed rolled out its first production C-5M in late Sep-tember, the ceremony seemed like a Hollywood Oscar bash, but the only celebrity on the red carpet was the giant aircraft. And like an aging movie star, the center of attention had had, shall we say, a little work done. T The former C-5B Galaxy had been transformed by AMP and RERP—the Avionics Modernization Program and the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program. That’s what the hubbub was about during the ceremony that included officials from Lockheed and the Air Force in front of a crowd that includ-ed local dignitaries. The new and improved C-5M is a thing to behold, say those who should know. Although its outward appearance is nearly unchanged to the untrained eye, the aircraft is now equipped to serve a generation of military mem-bers not yet born. Modern avionics, new engines and other upgrades make the aircraft almost new in many respects. But the C-5M will be an active-component aircraft exclusively, the Air Force says. The cost of conver-sion, about $90 million per aircraft, precludes doing more than 52, about half the fleet. The National Guard will have to get along with its fleet of aging A models, although they are currently going through the AMP process. “We all would like the same equip-ment as active duty,” says Lt. Col. Emile Bryant, the global mobility branch chief for the Air Guard mobil-ity air fleet at the National Guard Bureau. But, he says, since that’s not in the Air Force budget, the Air Guard’s three C-5 wings will content them-selves with flying the more-modern-ized A models, which he calls the “C-5A-plus.” After going through AMP, the airplane will be much more reliable and easier to fly, but the pro-cess does nothing to the length of the aircraft’s life. “The C-5A, from a structural stand-point, will probably disintegrate before it runs out of flying life,” he says. 26 | Na tional Guard

Galaxy Behind

Ron Jensen

Fully modernized C-5Ms are now coming off the production line. The Guard could use them, but will have to settle for less<br /> <br /> THE CAVERNOUS HANGAR on the Lockheed Martin campus in Marietta, Ga., was barely large enough to hold the superlatives flowing from the speaker's platform to describe the C-5M Super Galaxy that stood almost regal-like outside in an early autumn shower.<br /> <br /> Linchpin of strategic airlift.<br /> <br /> A game-changer.<br /> <br /> A paradigm shift.<br /> <br /> The nation needs the C-5M.<br /> <br /> After such high praise, one wonders, is this an airplane or a cheap, renewable fuel source?<br /> <br /> When Lockheed rolled out its first production C-5M in late September, the ceremony seemed like a Hollywood Oscar bash, but the only celebrity on the red carpet was the giant aircraft.<br /> <br /> And like an aging movie star, the center of attention had had, shall we say, a little work done.<br /> <br /> The former C-5B Galaxy had been transformed by AMP and RERP–the Avionics Modernization Program and the Reliability Enhancement and Reengining Program.<br /> <br /> That's what the hubbub was about during the ceremony that included officials from Lockheed and the Air Force in front of a crowd that included local dignitaries.<br /> <br /> The new and improved C-5M is a thing to behold, say those who should know.<br /> <br /> Although its outward appearance is nearly unchanged to the untrained eye, the aircraft is now equipped to serve a generation of military members not yet born. Modern avionics, new engines and other upgrades make the aircraft almost new in many respects.<br /> <br /> But the C-5M will be an active-component aircraft exclusively, the Air Force says. The cost of conversion, about $90 million per aircraft, precludes doing more than 52, about half the fleet.<br /> <br /> The National Guard will have to get along with its fleet of aging A models, although they are currently going through the AMP process.<br /> <br /> "We all would like the same equipment as active duty," says Lt. Col. Emile Bryant, the global mobility branch chief for the Air Guard mobility air fleet at the National Guard Bureau.<br /> <br /> But, he says, since that's not in the Air Force budget, the Air Guard's three C-5 wings will content themselves with flying the more-modernized A models, which he calls the "C-5A-plus." After going through AMP, the airplane will be much more reliable and easier to fly, but the process does nothing to the length of the aircraft's life.<br /> <br /> "The C-5A, from a structural standpoint, will probably disintegrate before it runs out of flying life," he says.<br /> <br /> SUPER STRUCTURE C-5Bs undergo conversion to C-5M Super Galaxy status at the Lockheed plant in Marietta, Ga.<br /> <br /> The AMP modernization includes a more up-to-date cockpit equipped with digital all-weather flight controls and autopilot, a new communications suite, flat-panel displays and enhanced navigation-safety equipment.<br /> <br /> Guard C-5As are going through AMP right now. The first wing to receive them was to be the New York Air Guard's 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air Guard Base, N.Y., which is now scheduled to convert to another strategic airlifter, the C-17 Globemaster III, according to an Air Force announcement late last year.<br /> <br /> "The aircraft are flowing into a queue on schedule," says Bryant. "They are flowing out of that queue on schedule."<br /> <br /> The Guard also has units flying the C-5 in Tennessee and West Virginia. The 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, W. Va., expects to receive the updated A models next spring or summer and is looking forward to it.<br /> <br /> But the wing has its eyes on an even bigger prize.<br /> <br /> "We are still hopeful that somehow down the road we will get M models," says Lt. Col. Shaun Perkowski, a pilot and the deputy commander of the 167th Operations Group.<br /> <br /> Lt. Col. Steve Truax, the acting commander of the 167th Maintenance Group, says the same thing.<br /> <br /> "My personal vision is that Martinsburg becomes a hub for C-5 maintenance and we being equipped with C-5Ms," he says.<br /> <br /> Well, why not? At the debut of the aircraft in Georgia, much of the boasting about the C-5M was how it would eventually pay for itself. The more powerful and fuel-efficient GE CF6 engines that are part of RERP use 10 percent less fuel.<br /> <br /> With a mission-capable rate of more than 75 percent, the aircraft will have less downtime. And there is less need for aerial refueling or stops since the aircraft has a 20 percent greater range.<br /> <br /> "Now you can go Dover to Incirlik," says Mark Johnston, Lockheed's director of air mobility programs.<br /> <br /> The original aircraft ordinarily has to stop in Rota, Spain, when it makes the journey from Delaware to Turkey.<br /> <br /> Over the life of the airplane, officials say, the C-5M program will give back to the government $9 billion.<br /> <br /> The plane also performs better. In addition to greater range and fuel efficiency, its 22 percent greater thrust means it can carry more cargo, needs less runway length to get airborne and can climb to its cruising altitude much faster.<br /> <br /> But the A models flown by the Guard are not in the plans for the conversion to C-5Ms, although one model was upgraded during the initial phase and has performed well with the updates.<br /> <br /> "We are confident that A models are viable candidates," Johnston says. "We look forward to getting the As eventually. The Air Force has to sort that out."<br /> <br /> "It's a good idea," Lt. Gen. Tom Owen, the commander of the Aerospace System Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, told Aviation Week in October, "but we are in a fiscally constrained environment."<br /> <br /> He is the program executive officer for aircraft procurement and modernization for the Air Force. He was in Marietta for the rollout in September.<br /> <br /> "We have confidence in the numbers used to show the aircraft's increased capability and enhanced reliability provide a sound fiscal basis for the program," he told the publication.<br /> <br /> So, for now, only the newer B models flown by the active-component Air Force, are part of the program.<br /> <br /> Jeffrey Armentrout, Lockheed's business development manager for strategic airlift, is also a C-5 pilot in the Air Force Reserve. As a pilot, he says, he'd like to see the reserve components be part of the C-5M program.<br /> <br /> "There's a concern that as the C-5A becomes just a Guard and Reserve aircraft, we'll be put in a different role," he says.<br /> <br /> Still, the current C-5A is nothing to take lightly. Truax, the maintenance group commander in Martinsville, says the wing is flying it into and out of Afghanistan once or twice a week. When it gets the post-AMP aircraft, "we will be able to do that and so much more."<br /> <br /> He's a believer in the future of the C-5 and says the 40-year-old bird is "just hitting its stride."<br /> <br /> "This was state of the art 40 years ago. It's not state of the art anymore," he says. "We can repair it and rebuild it so it's better than it's ever been."<br /> <br /> He adds, "There's nothing like being a C-5 maintenance officer at the present time."<br /> <br /> The wing was flying smaller C-130 transports until about five years ago. Perkowski says the conversion from one aircraft to another was smooth and the wing likes its current job.<br /> <br /> "When the mission goes as scheduled, it definitely is a rewarding mission," he says.<br /> <br /> For one thing, the crews are not away from home for months at a time like they were with the C-130. A C-5 crew might be gone only a few days if all goes well, which doesn't always happen with an aircraft that has a mission-capable-rate of about 50 percent.<br /> <br /> "If it goes as scheduled, it's a good Guard airplane," he says. "It's when a five-day mission becomes a 10-day mission [due to aircraft maintenance woes] that it's a problem."<br /> <br /> That's not good, of course, but it would be mitigated significantly with a C-5M Super Galaxy.<br /> <br /> Still, he says, no one is complaining.<br /> <br /> "Nobody's leaving this job. And people want to get in here," he says.<br /> <br /> "They're challenged, but they're satisfied with what we do–move cargo for the warfighter."<br /> <br /> Ron Jensen can be contacted at (202) 408-5885 or at ron.jensen@ngaus.org.<br /> <br /> "There's a concern that as the C-5A becomes just a Guard and Reserve aircraft, we'll be put in a different role."<br /> <br /> –Jeffrey Armentrout<br /> <br /> Business development manager for strategic airlift, Lockheed Martin Air Force Reserve C-5 pilot<br /> <br /> "The C-5A, from a structural standpoint, will probably disintegrate before it runs out of flying life."<br /> <br /> –Lt. Col. Emile Bryant<br /> <br /> Global mobility branch chief, Air National Guard mobility air fleet National Guard Bureau<br />

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