By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Feb. 08, 2006) -- The Air Force reached a milestone last month in the effort to modernize its C-5 Galaxy fleet.
A successful test of newly mounted C-5 engines occurred Jan. 21 at a Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, Ga. The test was part of the C-5 Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program, or RERP, said Col. John Brunderman, Air Force mobility division chief for global reach programs.
"They were able to start the engines, show that the electronics worked, show the thrust reverses deployed, run it up to full power and control the engines," Colonel Brunderman said. "That is a very significant milestone that demonstrates to us that the technical risk in C-5 RERP is pretty low. From this point on, it is some very minor adjustments and tweaks."
The RERP is the second part of a two-phase C-5 modernization program helping the aircraft achieve a mission-capable rate of at least 75 percent during wartime. During the RERP, a C-5 is fitted with more efficient General Electric F138-GE-100 engines.
The aircraft also receives approximately 70 other modifications, which increases its reliability, the colonel said. Eventually, 112 C-5A, C-5B and C-5C model aircraft will go through the two-phase upgrade.
Before a C-5 goes through RERP, it must first go through the Avionics Modernization Program, also known as AMP. This program overhauls the C-5 flightdeck and prepares the aircraft to receive the more modern engines.
"AMP puts a digital backbone into the aircraft," Colonel Brunderman said. "It replaces a lot of legacy analog dial systems that are no longer supportable and are getting unreliable and puts them into a digital format. AMP also allows the aircraft to interface with the digital controls on the new engines that come in the RERP phase."
The Air Force has 15 C-5s that have completed or are in the process of receiving AMP modifications. Three of these are currently being modified to the RERP configuration at Lockheed Martin’s plant in Marietta, Ga. The recent engine-run test was conducted on the first of these three aircraft.
After completing the entire modernization program, the C-5s will be renamed the C-5M Galaxy aircraft. The C-5M won't be faster, but it will be more robust and powerful than the A and B models, Colonel Brunderman said.
"It will provide us with the ability to take off with heavier loads, on shorter runways, to climb to altitude faster, to save on fuel, to fly at higher altitudes, to make it into various air tracks to and from Europe and mix with all the international commercial traffic," he said.
The modifications also make the aircraft less prone to maintenance failures, meaning the aircraft can spend less time being repaired and more time flying missions, he said.
Taking an aircraft that is invaluable to the Air Force and making it better means the Air Force will be better able to support the warfighter well into the future, Colonel Brunderman said.
"The C-5 Galaxy is an integral part of our overall mobility system which includes the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft as well as the C-130 Hercules aircraft," Colonel Brunderman said. "A particular benefit of the C-5 is its outsize and oversize capability -- we can move M1 ABRAMS tanks, helicopters and other things that will not fit on the C-130.
"The C-5 is the largest aircraft in the U.S. inventory and increasing its efficiency will benefit the entire military," he said.
Colonel Brunderman said he expects all 112 C-5s in the Air Force will be fitted with new engines by 2020, and the efficiency realized by the modifications will pay for the program by 2029.