Aero-TV: The USAF C-5M Galaxy - Upgrading the Military's Largest Aircraft
C-5 Pilot Lieutenant Colonel Takes ANN Through the Spirit of Normandy
On July 31st, 2009, The C-5M, the newest upgrade of the United States Air Force cargo airplane fleet, arrived at the Wittman Regional Aircr1aft to celebrate EAAs AirVenture 2009. The crew, composed of members from the 512th Airlift Wing Reservists, led enthusiastic AirVenture attendees through the Spirit of Normandy, one of the largest aircraft in the world.
On December 17th, 1969, the USAF received their first C-5 delivery; since that time, the aircraft has remained a crucial component of the USAFs strategic airlift fleet. With a cargo compartment of 121 feet and maximum takeoff weight of 840,000 pounds, the C-5M Super Galaxy is capable of carrying nearly every type of combat equipment, from Humvees to the the 74 short tons (67 t) armored vehicle launched bridge (AVLB), to military destinations around the world. The large wing surface, with approximately 222 ft of wingspan and 6,200 feet of wing area, allows the aircraft to take off at slower air speeds with very heavy weights.
Recent testing, however, revealed that years of field operations have drastically impacted the C-5 fleets reliability rates, with about 80 percent of its structural service life remaining. In 1998, the U.S. government accepted a proposal by Lockheed Martin to update the C-5 Galaxy fleet with new avionics and engines. Deemed the Reliability Enhancement and Re-Engining Program, the C-5M fleet features new General Electric CF6-80C2 engines, providing 22% more thrust than the existing C-5 engines. As Lt. Col. Mike Semo explains, the new engines will provide sufficient increases in reliability, maximum takeoff weight, and range. In addition, the Avionics Modernization Program includes an all-new digital glass cockpit system, providing pilots greater situational awareness particularly for combat situations.
Recently, on September 13th, 2009, the Spirit of Normandy crew set 41 world aeronautical records in a single flight. The aircraft carried a payload of 176,610 pounds to an altitude of more than 41,100 feet in 23 minutes, 59 seconds. The flight set a new altitude with payload record and numerous time-to-climb records with an astonishing 59 seconds to fly to 39,371 feet. In addition, the crew attained the highest altitude attained in horizontal flight (41,116 feet), breaking the record previously held by the Russian Tupolev Tu-160 aircraft. Lockheed Martin is expected to finish the C-5 fleet upgrade by 2016.
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