Video Tour: C-5M Super Galaxy

2011 PARIS AIR SHOW — Here’s Lt. Col. Lee Merkel of Dover AFB, Delaware talking about some the improvements he notices from a pilot’s perspective with regard to the newly renovated Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy. He was talking to me aboard a C-5M on display at this year’s show. This particular jet was built in the 1980s and served as one of Lockheed’s test jets for the C-5M program in the last decade. It’s one of only five of the Galaxy’s to have recieved the new GE CF6-80C2 commercial engines (with 50,000 pounds of thrust each) and digital flight controls.

While the C-5 re-engining program had its fiscal troubles, the new engines give the plane a 22-percent boost in power, a 20-percent shorter takeoff roll, a 58-percent increase in climb rate and a ten-fold increase in reliability. Can you say serious upgrade? C-5Ms can operate from twice the number of bases as older C-5s and fly directly from the U.S. to bases in Afghanistan with 120,000 pounds of cargo; something the biggest jet in the U.S. arsenal couldn’t do before.

Meanwhile, the digital flight deck brings the cockpit into the 21st century with tech such as GPS navigation system and a glass displays. The modern, GPS-based navigation system means the plane can now be flown in standard commercial air lanes rather than flying under them.

This will keep an aircraft whose first flight happened in 1968 flying until 2040.

  • John Moore

    Your way way way too obsesed with this plane maybe u can move on and report something else please?

    • DennisBuller

      It is a huge leap in logistical capability.
      Wars are won with logistics.

    • ziv

      John, if you could find a way to spell ‘you’re’ correctly, it would help your cause. But, to add insult to injury, when you can’t spell ‘obsessed’ and choose to spell ‘you’ with a ‘u’ instead, don’t expect anyone to respect your opinion.
      Being poorly educated doesn’t mean that you are stupid, but it does mean that you are poorly educated….

  • Expand this to the C141 & other C5s??? expand Air Logistics alone.

    • Shail

      With the advent of the C-17 fleet, all C-141s have been removed from service.
      There might be some left at Davis-Mothan and a few museums, but Starlifters aren’t flying for the US military anymore (Wiki entry says the last were retired in 2006…).

      Odd thing of that is,
      I can’t begin to guess how many of the C-141’s Russian equivalent, the Il-76 (“Candid”) were seen chartering in supplies of all sorts (via contractor) when I was at an airbase in Iraq for much of 2009.
      Logistics, logistics, logistics, yet in all their wisdom, the USAF just can’t keep up with the needs of the deployed US military’s logistics requirements, to the point the US needs to contract-out additional air freight service.
      No glamour in hauling freight, even if it’s what everyone else on the ground actually NEEDS.
      The USAF wants stealthy tactical aircraft instead, that’s where the good Hollywood hero stories have always been made.

      • blight

        The idea is to eventually move to the European model, where all your money is spent on tooth and expect someone else (in our case, contractors) to pick up the tail.

  • IKnowIT

    Another C5 story? There is nothing better from Paris? Really? At least no SilverLight..

  • SJE

    Given the high prices (?price gouging”) for new systems, there is a lot to be said for retooling and upgrading a tried and true system. You know it works, you have parts, trained people, and you get a good price. You also get all the expertise in logistics from the commercial sector, where costs and reliability are key, not pulling 9g in a turn.

    On a separate issue: I read the Airbus tried to make a civilian version of the A400M, but civilian airlines didnt like the costs. Can someone explain this to me?

    • blight

      The only problem is that the C5 is old and the tooling is gone, so we are spending money to upgrade a platform that when attrited stays that way, and will experience increasing parts shortages as time goes by, even if the airframes have flyable hours.

      • Max

        The B52 is far older than the C5, and it’s proving its usefulness with upgrades. Using your reasoning, we should dump the b52 also, right? Penny-wise but pound foolish IMO.

        • blight

          Correct, the B-52 is old and needs to go. You can only re-engine for so long. The logic about retaining old aircraft is remarkably selective, since we are retaining old bombers while gladly trashing old fighter jets and replacing them with great frequency.

    • Dfens

      The C-5M modifications took 10 years to develop vs. the 4 years it took to develop the airplane from scratch. Lockmart didn’t even try to do autoland with the new, integrated autopilot and flight management system. The old airplane had autoland. Hell, at $2 billion, it cost about twice what the same modifications to the C-130J cost. Naturally, it would take longer and cost more when spending your money to do the modifications instead of the Lockheed stockholder’s cash.

      Military airlifters tend to be designed to hold heavy cargo like tanks and ammo. These are very valuable in war, but not so much to civilians doing commerce. They tend to like to ship computers, cell phones, and low density, high value commercial products like that.

      Why no video of the flight deck? The CF-6 engines look like CF-6 engines. The flight deck is where the interesting stuff is.

  • blight

    It’s only ludicrous in the “fat slow” department. Fat slow bomber, check. Fat slow transports, check. Surplus money for fighter jets whenever possible, check. Wars can be won by defeating armies, but they’re also lost when you lose too many merchant ships to submarines (I’m looking at you, Japan!)

  • Sun

    the engines and avionic was never the problem. its the cargo doors and landing gear. every time you kneeled or open the doors the plane was broke lol

  • vicent

    More ammo,more ,trucks,artilery,protiens.water safe and return safe!!

  • Steve G

    I would like to say that it is great to see that the DOD has spent a little money on the old C5 A/B. I can’t imagine how much it would cost to produce a new version of the C5 today. I worked on the C5 as a crew chief back in the early 80’s and i had good experiences as well as not so good with the C5. I hope this will be money well spent. It is unusual to see a C5 with a glass cockpit but awesome at the same time. Finally engine upgrades with the GE CF6’s. Maybe the GE “GENex” engines would do good too but the C5 requires a lot of bleed air to operate most of its systems. Most of everything would have to run on electrical power. It would be too much modifications to deal with. Anyway, best of luck to the men & women who will fly and the men & women who will maintain this gigantic plane.

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  • don clark

    i was a c5 crew chief and later flt engineer from 1980-2008. it is a great plane and still required because some military equip will not fit in anything else, it has longer range and higher payload capacity than c17, may she fly for along,long time. anyway i was just wondering how one got in a tv commercial in civilian paint? it would be great if someone got one of my old a models out of dm and ran that antonov out of the civilian heavylift business, though it would require faa waivers, since it was never civilian certified.