The C-5 Galaxy is a heavy-cargo transport designed to provide strategic airlift for deployment and supply of combat and support forces. The C-5 can carry unusually large and heavy cargo for intercontinental ranges at jet speeds. The plane can take off and land in relatively short distances and taxi on substandard surfaces during emergency operations. The C-5 and the smaller C-141B Starlifter are strategic airlift partners. Together they carry fully equipped, combat-ready troops to any area in the world on short notice and provide full field support necessary to maintain a fighting force.
The C-5A experienced a multitude of technical problems. Critical weakness in the wing, production slippage, and cost overruns nearly caused the program's cancellation in 1970. Even though some of the C-5A's deficiencies were unique to that aircraft, most defects proved easy to fix, of the kind routinely found in a typical new weapon system. Despite the public debate and widespread misgivings, it was just a question of time before the C-5A program began to fulfill expectations and contribute to the war effort in Southeast Asia.
The Galaxy is one of the world's largest aircraft. It is almost as long as a football field and as high as a six-story building and has a cargo compartment about the size of an eight-lane bowling alley. The C-5 is the only aircraft that can transport any of the Army's combat equipment, including the 74-ton (66,600-kilogram) mobile scissors bridge, tanks and helicopters. The maximum weight for takeoff during peacetime is 769,000 pounds, and the allowance increases to 840,000 pounds in wartime. However, the plane has been flight tested at more than one million pounds at the Air Force Test Center at Edwards, AFB.
Using the front and rear cargo openings, the Galaxy can be loaded and off-loaded at the same time. Both nose and rear doors open the full width and height of the cargo compartment, allowing drive-through loading and unloading of wheeled and tracked vehicles, and faster, easier loading of bulky equipment. A "kneeling" landing gear system lowers the aircraft's cargo floor to truck-bed height. The entire cargo floor has a roller system for rapid handling of palletized equipment. Thirty-six fully loaded pallets can be loaded aboard in about 90 minutes.
Another important feature of the C-5A is its ease of loading and unloading. Since the cargo compartment opened at both ends, a truck or tank could drive in before takeoff and at the destination drive out under its own power, with no need for backing and filling. Integral cargo-loading ramps, stowed fore and aft in the cargo compartment, facilitate entry and exit. Finally, standard cargo-pallet rails, rollers, and restraints formed an integral part of the heavy duty cargo floor, folding away when not in use to provide a level deck.
As of early 2001 the C-5 had a mission capable rate of only 58 percent. One of the primary causes of these reliability rates for C -5 aircraft, and especially for operational unit aircraft, is the shortage of spare repair parts. Since then the mission capable rate has improved, because they are going through Periodic Depot Maintenance (PDM) much faster than before. Warner Robins Air Logistics Center -- C-5 production branch cut 43 days off the programmed depot maintenance time. At the end of fiscal 2003 it took 269 days, on average, to put a C-5 through the top-to-bottom programmed depot maintenance regiment. But thanks to production branch implementing Lean initiatives, by 2004 C-5 PDM took 226 days and the goal was to reach 180 days for B models and 220 days for A models by fiscal 2005. In October 2005 the prestigious Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing, often referred to as the Nobel Prize of manufacturing, was awarded to Warner-Robins ALC, Robins Air Force Base. Warner Robins ALC garnered the 2005 Shingo Prize Public Sector Gold award for its C-5 Programmed Depot Maintenance, or PDM.
The C-5 entered into Service Level Agreements (SLA) with their sources of repair (SOR) and supply (SOS). As part of these agreements the SOR will identify what they can reasonably produce against the full monthly demand rate for all of the C-5 items that they are responsible for and we'll seek alternative sources for any unmet demand so that our customers have the parts they need. In the same manner, the SLAs with the other SOSs will seek to establish an agreed upon level of support for the C-5 items each manages.
C-5 modernization encompasses both the Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) and the separate Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program (RERP) denoted C-5 AMP/RERP. The full modernization effort incorporates a "glass cockpit" with digital avionics, a new aircraft propulsion system, and reliability improvements. Modified commercial engines, nacelles, thrust reversers, and pylons will be integrated into the legacy C-5 airframe. The anticipated performance improvements are intended to optimize cargo carrying capabilities, to include fully loaded take-offs and landings on relatively short runways, and to meet the performance requirements of the Global Air Traffic Management initiative. Additionally, the re-engining is intended to provide significant reliability, maintainability, and availability improvements. A commercial engine support concept (including two levels of maintenance and warranties) will be integrated into the C-5 logistics support system infrastructure. Candidate subsystems for reliability enhancement include the flight control, hydraulics, environmental control, electrical, and fuel systems. Specific upgrades and the extent of the expected reliability improvement will be identified from a series of trade studies.