C-5 AMP: Bridging the Gap

  • Published
  • By Katherine C. Gandara
  • Headquarters Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Chief of Public Affairs
The U.S. Air Force has been and continues to be about dominating air, space, and cyberspace. Even with the tough decisions that come with a changing budget, the Air Force continues to deliver the best possible interdependent warfighting capabilities, which includes the C-5 Avionics Modernization Program.

In order to meet future needs, the Air Force is recapitalizing and modernizing its aging fleet of aircraft, including the gigantic C-5 Galaxy that provides intertheater airlift in support of United States national defense. As part of this effort, the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center completed qualification operational test and evaluation in the fall of 2006 that determined the C-5 AMP's effectiveness and suitability. Additionally, AFOTEC resolved overall mission capability of the AMP-modified C-5 to support the strategic airlift mission.

Testers at AFOTEC's Detachment 5 Operating Location at Marietta, Ga., conducted the QOT&E at Dover AFB, Del., and determined that the C-5 AMP enhances existing strategic airlift in support of Air Mobility Operations and national military objectives. The C-5 AMP test team concluded that the technology provides the means to achieve a dynamic routing capability and ensures unrestricted global operations and safety levels commensurate with commercial standards.

"During the QOT&E, a number of deficiencies were also discovered during this phase of testing that will be corrected during follow on development efforts leading to a greatly improved C-5 system for the warfighter," said Maj. Scott Steere, C-5 Test Program Director and Chief of AFOTEC Detachment 5 OL-MG.

The C-5 AMP consists of adding a new, modern cockpit that includes a digital all-weather flight control system and autopilot, a new communications suite, flat-panel displays, and improved navigation and safety equipment. Modernizing these components improves the ability of the C-5 to operate under new international airspace rules and provides an improved baseline for the next phase of modernization - the C-5 Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program, or RERP.

The C-5 AMP replaces the legacy analog dial systems that are no longer supportable and are becoming unreliable by putting them into digital format. AMP also allows the aircraft to interface with the digital controls on the new engines that come in the RERP phase. The RERP phase aims to help the aircraft achieve a mission-capable rate of at least 75 percent during wartime. During the RERP, the C-5 is fitted with more efficient General Electric F138-GE-100 engines.

"These engines meet worldwide aircraft noise and pollution standards, can climb directly into preferred airspace, significantly improve the reliability, maintainability, and availability of the C-5 aircraft, and will result in greatly reduced life cycle costs," said Major Steere.

The overall goal of the C-5 modernization program is to extend the life of the aircraft by several decades by taking an aircraft that is invaluable to air mobility operations and making it better so it is able to support the warfighter well into the future. This effort allows the Air Force to bridge the gap between current needs and development of new aircraft into its inventory."

Air mobility operations combine airlift, air refueling, and air mobility support into an integrated whole. Together, these three components enable rapid, decisive response to worldwide crises. They provide the U.S. military the strategic agility to deploy, employ, and sustain military power anywhere.

The C-5 has logged more than 2 million flight hours since entering the fleet in 1970. It is credited as being the backbone of strategic airlift in every military engagement from Vietnam through Operation Iraqi Freedom.

When the C-5 modernization program is complete, the aircraft will be renamed the C-5M Galaxy aircraft. While the C-5 won't be faster, it will be more robust and powerful than the A and B models, according to Air Force mobility officials.

The upgrades enable the C-5 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 to mix with all the international commercial traffic. The modifications make the aircraft less prone to maintenance failures and that means the aircraft spends less time being repaired and more time flying missions.

"There is no other aircraft in the U.S. Air Force inventory that does what a C-5 can do and that is why modernization of the aircraft through the AMP and RERP is crucial," said Major Steere. "With the new avionics that AMP provides and the new engines that come with RERP, the new C-5M gives our nation unparalleled capabilities for the global deployment of personnel and supplies. The C-5 is one of the reasons the U.S. military is able to engage in the operations it does, and modernization will carry the C-5 out to the 2040 timeframe."