Designed to increase the capacity of the C-5 Galaxy to carry on until 2040, the C-5M Super Galaxy is a military aircraft in service of the United States Air Force. It is an improved version outfitted with new engines and enhanced avionics and one of the largest military transport aircraft in the world.
Lockheed C 5M Super Galaxy unloading Sikorsky Blackhawks to Riga airport
credit: Karlis Dambrans
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C-5M Super Galaxy Production and Development
In 1998, the C-5 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) started with a $454 million contract. This program was set to modernized the cockpit of the C-5 aircraft including avionics upgrade to Global Air Traffic Management compliance, upgrading communication system, newly installed flat panel displays, enhancing navigation and safety, and having an improved autopilot system.
In December 2001, the Reliability Enhancement and Re-Engining Program (RERP) contract was initiated. The program features new F138-GE-100 (CF6-80C2) turbofan engines from General Electric, better engine pylons, Auxiliary Power Units (APU), thrust reversers, improved skin and frame, restrengthened landing gear, modernized cockpit, and upgraded pressurization systems.
In December 2002, the first upgraded aircraft under the Avionics Modernization Program took its maiden flight. In October 2004, the aircraft was delivered to the United States Air Force.
In May 2006, the upgraded aircraft was designated as the C-5M Super Galaxy.
On June 19 2006, the first test aircraft of the C-5M took its first flight with more than fifty-one flight hours. In December 2008, it was delivered to the United States Air Force for operational testing. In November 2006, the second test aircraft made its first flight. The first and second test aircraft were originally C5-B versions.
In March 2007, the third C-5M test aircraft, which is an upgraded C-5A took its maiden flight.
C-5M Super Galaxy Design
The C-5M Super Galaxy combines more than seventy improvements and reduced operating cost. It boasts reliability enhancements and efficiency in performance. It has an exterior length of 75.5 meters, around 3 meters longer than an Airbus A380 superjumbo aircraft. It has a height of 19.84 meters.
The aircraft has a wingspan of 67.89 meters and a wing area of 580 square meters. It is also fitted with five sets of landing gears and twenty-eight wheels. The C-5M Super Galaxy would not fit in most of the hangars because of its size. In few cases, in order for the aircraft to fit inside, the Air Force will have to make a hole in the sliding doors for the tail to stick out.
The aircraft has a huge interior. It has a cargo hold of 36.8 meters in length, 5.8 meters in height and 4.1 meters in width. The C-5M can transport outsized cargo over intercontinental flights and able to take off and land on approximately short runways. The nose and the aft doors are both open, letting the ground crew to load and off-load cargo at the same time from both ends, which resulted to reduced cargo transfer times.
C-5M Super Galaxy Cockpit
The C-5M Super Galaxy features a modern glass cockpit with a digital autopilot, multimode communication suite, digital flight control system, improved navigation radios, flat panel displays and safety equipment. It incorporated datalink capabilities and improved situational awareness displays that contribute to flight performance and situational awareness of the crew.
The C-5M Super Galaxy is also equipped with a maintenance diagnostic system that records and evaluates data from seven thousand test points, decreasing maintenance and repair time.
C-5M Super Galaxy Engine and Performance
The General Electric CF6-80C2 high-bypass turbofan engines give power to the C-5M Super Galaxy. The aircraft has four engines which produce a twenty-two percent more thrust or 51,000 lbf each. It has a fan diameter of 2.36 meters and an airflow of 1,750 pounds per second. It has a pressure ratio of 30.4 and a bypass ratio of 5.15.
There is an additional stage to the low pressure compressor and a fifth stage to the low pressure turbine. The Cf6-80C2 incorporates an established core with the modern technical innovations to provide greater reliability, longer life, and lower fuel burn in its class.
The C-5M Super Galaxy has a thirty percent shorter take off or 1,646 meters, and a landing distance of 1,097 meters. It has a rate of climb of 2,100 feet per minute, a longer travel range of 4,800 nautical miles with a 54,431 kg of payload or 2,300 nautical miles with maximum cargo capacity.
It has a maximum take off weight of 416,305 kg and a fuel tank capacity of 51,150 US Gal.