Lockheed C-5 Galaxy


The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is a large military transport aircraft originally designed and built by Lockheed, and now maintained and upgraded by its successor, Lockheed Martin. The C-5 provides the United States Air Force (USAF) with a heavy intercontinental-range strategic airlift capability, one that can carry outsize and oversize loads, including all air-certifiable cargo. The Galaxy has many similarities to its smaller Lockheed C-141 Starlifter predecessor, and the later Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. The C-5 is among the largest military aircraft in the world.

The C-5 Galaxy's development was complicated, including several significant cost overruns, and Lockheed suffered significant financial difficulties as a result. Shortly after entering service, cracks in the wings of many aircraft were discovered and the C-5 fleet was restricted in capability until corrective work was completed. The C-5M Super Galaxy is an upgraded version with new engines and a modernized avionics package designed to extend its service life up to and beyond 2040.

The USAF has operated the C-5 since 1969. In that time, the airlifter supported US military operations in all major conflicts including Vietnam, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, as well as allied support, such as Israel during the Yom Kippur War and operations in the Gulf War. The Galaxy has also been used to distribute humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and supported the US Space Shuttle program.

The C-5A is the original version of the C-5. From 1969 to 1973, a total of eighty-one C-5As were delivered to U.S. Air Force bases. Due to cracks found in the wings in the mid-1970s, the cargo weight was restricted. To restore the C-5's full capability, the wing structure was redesigned. A program to install new strengthened wings on seventy-even C-5As was conducted from 1981 to 1987. The redesigned wing made use of a aluminum alloy that did not exist during the original production run of the aircraft.

The C-5B is an improved version of the C-5A. It incorporated all modifications and improvements made to the C-5A with improved wings, simplified landing gear, upgraded TF-39-GE-1C turbofan engines and updated avionics. A total of fifty of the new variant were delivered to the U.S. Air Force from 1986 to 1989.

The C-5C is a specially modified variant for transporting large cargo. Two C-5As (68-0213 and 68-0216) were modified to have a larger internal cargo capacity to accommodate large payloads, such as satellites. The major modifications were the removal of the rear passenger compartment floor, splitting the rear cargo door in the middle, and installing a new movable aft bulkhead further to the rear. Today these aircraft are based at Travis AFB in California and have been modified to become C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft.

Following a study showing 80% of the C-5 airframe service life remaining, Air Mobility Command (AMC) began an aggressive program to modernize all remaining C-5Bs and C-5Cs and many of the C-5As. The C-5 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) began in 1998 and includes upgrading avionics to Global Air Traffic Management compliance, improving communications, new flat panel displays, improving navigation and safety equipment, and installing a new autopilot system. The first flight of a C-5 with AMP occurred in December 2002.

The Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program (RERP) began in 2006. It includes new General Electric F138-GE-100 (CF6-80C2) engines, pylons and auxiliary power units, upgrades to aircraft's skin and frame, landing gear, cockpit, and pressurization systems. Each CF6 engine produces 22% more thrust (50,000 lb over the original TF-39s), providing a 30% shorter takeoff, a 38% higher climb rate to initial altitude, an increased cargo load and a longer range. These aircraft are referred to as the C-5M Super Galaxy.

Today, only the C-5M Super Galaxy remains in service. Fifty-two aircraft, consisting of the forty-nine remaining C-5B, two C-5C, and one C-5A Galaxy aircraft will be converted to C-5M Super Galaxy standard.


USAF C-5M Super Galaxy Bases

Unit Squadron Active Duty/Reserve/Guard Base Callsigns
60th AMW 22st AS Active Duty Travis AFB, CA FRED
349th AMW 312st AS Reserve Travis AFB, CA HEFTY
436th AW 9th AS Active Duty Dover AFB, DE JUMBO
512th AW 709th AS Reserve Dover AFB, DE HAGAR
433rd AW 68th AS Reserve Kelly/Lackland AFB, TX CHILI
433rd AW 356th AS Reserve Kelly/Lackland AFB, TX UHAUL
439th AW 337th AS Reserve Westover ARB, MA RODD

Photos in the slideshow were taken between August 2015 and March 2018.  Apologies for the large copyrights in each photo - this is necessary in this day and age where photos are widely stolen and passed along as if they are one's own.