C-5M Super Galaxy Transport Aircraft

The C-5M Super Galaxy strategic transport aircraft, a modernised version of the legacy C-5,  was designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin to extend the capability of the C-5 fleet to remain in service at least until 2040. The C-5M aircraft is operated by the US Air Force (USAF).

The USAF initiated a two-phase upgrade programme to transform the C-5 aircraft fleet into the C-5M Super Galaxy. Under the programme, Lockheed Martin modernised 52 C-5 aircraft, including 49 C-5Bs, two C-5Cs and one C-5A by 2017. The company delivered 16 C-5M aircraft by December 2013.

The C-5M Super Galaxy transport aircraft achieved initial operational capability (IOC) in February 2014. The aircraft set 89 world aeronautical records to date.

Details of the C-5 Galaxy modernisation programme

The C-5 Galaxy is being modernised in two phases involving the avionics modernisation programme (AMP), and reliability enhancement and re-engining programme (RERP). Lockheed Martin secured a $454m contract for the first phase of the upgrade in January 1999. The AMP is aimed at upgrading the cockpit of the C-5 fleet.

The contract for the second phase was awarded in December 2001. It includes the installation of new engines, pylons, thrust reversers and wing attachment fittings to the C-5 aircraft. The first C-5 aircraft upgraded as part of AMP completed its maiden flight in December 2002 and was delivered to the USAF in October 2004. The second phase began in October 2004 was concluded in May 2006, renaming the modernised aircraft C-5M Super Galaxy.


The first of the three C-5M test aircraft performed a maiden flight in June 2006 and was delivered to the USAF for operational testing and evaluation in December 2008. The second and third aircraft completed their first flights in November 2006 and March 2007 respectively.

The USAF approved the upgrade of 49 additional aircraft, including 47 C-5Bs and two C-5Cs, under the RERP in February 2008.

In February 2009, Lockheed Martin secured a $299m RERP contract for the production of nine C-5Ms. The company was also awarded a $25m Interim Contractor Support (ICS) contract for the familiarisation and operational testing and evaluation of the C-5M.


The low-rate initial production of the first C-5M transport aircraft was commenced in August 2009. The test aircraft piloted by a joint USAF and Lockheed Martin flight crew in September 2009 set 41 world aeronautical records in one flight.

The maiden flight of the first C-5M production aircraft took place in September 2010, and the operational testing and evaluation was completed in October 2010. Joint acceptance flight by the USAF and Lockheed Martin was concluded in October 2012.

The third C-5M production aircraft made its first flight in July 2011 and was delivered to the USAF in August 2011.The USAF took delivery of the 52nd and final C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft in August 2018. All 52 aircraft are operational with the Air Mobility Command and Air Force Reserve Command units.



The C-5M Super Galaxy is a strategic transport aircraft and is the largest aircraft in the Air Force inventory. Its primary mission is to transport cargo and personnel for the Department of Defense. The C-5M is a modernized version of the legacy C-5 designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Currently the U.S. Air Force owns and operates 52 C-5B/C/M. They are stationed at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware; Travis AFB, California; Lackland AFB, Texas; and Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts.

Looking to the future, modernization efforts include incorporating advanced weather radar, mission computing, communication systems and air traffic management to meet FAA mandates and survivability in theaterSource af.mil


Lockheed Martin to new mission computers and weather radars 

Military avionics experts at the Lockheed Martin Corp. Aeronautics segment in Marietta, Ga., will upgrade the mission computer and weather radar systems in the giant C-5M Super Galaxy cargo jet under terms of an $84.3 million contract announced late Tuesday.

The avionics upgrade contract calls for Lockheed Martin to begin full-scale development of the C-5 Core Mission Computer/Color Weather Radar, which is part of a long-term program to extend the life of the Air Force C-5 fleet beyond 2040.

The new distributed-architecture core mission computer will have a 100-megabit-per-second Ethernet interface over copper wire, and will have several sources of supply for components such as MIL-STD-1553 interface chips, single board computers, and I/O cards.

The core mission computers for the C-5 also will have commercial standard video interfaces with VGA as a minimum, at least one additional expansion data bus for federated systems or new line-replaceable units (LRUs) covering Ethernet, MIL-STD-1553, and ARINC 429 avionics databuses.

The computer will separate classified and non-classified data for at least one data bus type for proper isolation of classified information, Air Force officials say. It will support the weather radar, flight management system (FMS), and communication navigation surveillance (CNS) and air traffic management (ATM) subsystems, including automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) Out, and identification friend or foe (IFF) Mode 5.

The new computers also will be able to accommodate future capability like the Joint Tactical Radio System into the communication system; memory expansion and processing necessary for the Joint Position Approach and Landing System algorithms; and memory and processing power necessary for new data links on the C-5M such as Link 16 or the conceptual Mobility Air Force Data Link. Source militaryaerospace.com


C-5M Super Galaxy features


The C-5M Super Galaxy transport aircraft offers greater reliability and efficient performance at reduced operating and lifecycle costs. It integrates more than 70 enhancements and requires reduced maintenance per flight hour.


US Air Force

Lockheed Martin

Dewar tank


In May 2009, they put together a Dover Dewar Conference at Dover AFB that included two engineers from Robbins AFB, seven engineers from Lockheed Martin, C-5 community maintainers, and people from Parker Hannifin, the manufacturer.

“For two days we had the best and the brightest in one room talking about the system and what we needed to upgrade it,” Haller said .

The new system is putting liquid nitrogen, which is negative 320 degrees, into the Dewar tank. This not only helps with aircraft fires, but also puts a positive pressure on top of the wings and the fuel systems.

The Dewar and fire suppression system works by opening up the valves and letting the nitrogen flow through the plumbing into the non-manned areas of the aircraft. Oxygen is pushed out allowing the nitrogen to put out the fire. Also by placing nitrogen into the fuel itself there is no oxygen so there is less chance of having a fire inside the fuel tank.

What has been developed and improved through the AFSO21 process are re-designed valves, a universal wiring harness, an upgraded FSS control panel, and better seals and plumbing. Source af.mil

The aircraft has a length of 75.53m, height of 19.84m and wingspan of 67.91m. The operating and maximum take-off weights of the aircraft are 181,437kg and 381,018kg respectively. The aircraft has a fuel capacity of 150,819kg and payload-carrying capacity of 129,274kg.

The aircraft is equipped with five sets of landing gears with a total of 28 wheels.



The maintenance diagnostics system has the ability to record and analyze data from more than 7,000 test points, reducing maintenance and repair time.

The C-5M, with a cargo load of 281,001 pounds (127,460 kilograms), can fly 2,150 nautical miles, offload, and fly to a second base 500 nautical miles away from the original destination — all without aerial refueling. With aerial refueling, the aircraft’s range is limited only by crew endurance. Source af.mil

AiirSource Military

US Defense News

Underlining the capability of the C-5M are 89 FAI-certified records, the most held by any aircraft type. In operational terms, the C-5M is one of a tiny handful of aircraft that can carry main battle tanks, being able to haul two M1A1 Abrams tanks over intercontinental distances. With this capability, the Super Galaxy remains vital to the U.S. Air Force’s mission to rapidly deploy large equipment that would otherwise rely on sea transportation. Source ainonline.com

Cockpit and cargo compartment


The advanced glass cockpit integrates a multimode communications suite, a mission computer, enhanced navigation radios, digital autopilot, multifunctional display units, flight management system, safety equipment and surveillance components. It is also fitted with built-in controls and diagnostic systems for the identification of maintenance requirements.


Aero-News Network


Aero-News Network


Aero-News Network


Aero-News Network

The cockpit also features integrated datalink capabilities and situational awareness displays, and provides predictive flight performance cues. It also provides improved situational awareness to the crew.

New cockpit system features:

  • A digital flight-control system
  • A state-of-the-art communications and navigation suite, with satellite links and a GPS receiver.
  • An enhanced ground proximity warning system.
  • An ARINC-standard data bus.
  • Seven 15 x 20 centimeter (6 x 8 inch) color flat-panel displays, with six for the pilot and copilot, plus and one for the flight engineer.

The new scheme is built around Honeywell Versatile Integrated Avionics (VIA) processors. The Honeywell flight-management system permits electronic upload of preprepared flight plans and can store up to 200 navigation waypoints, compared to 10 in the old system. According to Lockheed Martin, which implemented the AMP program, all the new equipment was based on commercially-available products. Source airvectors.net

(U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. Robert Couse-Baker)

US Defense News


US Air Force

The C-5M Super Galaxy can carry more air-transportable cargo than the C-5 aircraft, and can be loaded with cargo quickly and efficiently. The dedicated passenger compartment of the aircraft accommodates troops and their supplies.

Engine and performance of C-5M Super Galaxy

The C-5M Super Galaxy transport aircraft is powered by four GE CF6-80C2 turbofan engines developing a thrust of 50,580lb each. The length and diameter of the engine are 4.26m and 2.69m respectively. The dry weight of the engine is 9,860lb. The engines comply with Stage 4 noise and emission and provide the aircraft with 22% more thrust and 58% higher rate of climb.

GE F138 (CF6-80C2L1F)


The main feature of the RERP was the substitution of the original General Electric TF39 engines with the same company’s F138 (CF6-80C2L1F). De-rated to 50,000 lb thrust in the C-5M installation, the F138 provides 22 percent more thrust than the TF39, resulting in improvements in takeoff performance and climb rate, increased payload, and more economical cruise. The engines are also compliant with FAA Stage 4 noise requirements. Source ainonline.com

Source GE

Aero-News Network

The aircraft can fly at a normal cruise speed of 0.77 Mach. It has an un-refuelled range of about 4,800nm with 54,430kg of cargo and about 7,000nm with no load.


Lockheed Martin

General Characteristics 

Primary Function: Outsize cargo transport
Prime Contractor: Lockheed Martin-Georgia Co.
Power Plant: Four F-138-GE100 General Electric engines
Thrust: 51,250 pounds per engine
Wingspan: 222 feet 9 inches (67.89 meters)
Length: 247 feet 10 inches (75.3 meters)
Height: 65 feet 1 inch (19.84 meters)

Cargo Compartment:
Height: 13 feet 6 inches (4.11 meters)
Width: 19 feet (5.79 meters)
Length: 143 feet, 9 inches (43.8 meters)
Pallet Positions: 36
Maximum Cargo: 281,001 pounds (127,460 Kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 840,000 pounds (381,024 kilograms)
Speed: 518 mph
Unrefueled Range of C-5M: Approximately 5,524 statute miles (4,800 nautical miles) with 120,000 pounds of cargo; approximately 7,000 nautical miles with no cargo on board.
Crew: Pilot, co-pilot, two flight engineers and three loadmasters

(Current as of February 2018)

Source af.mil

Main material source airforce-technology.com

Images are from public domain unless otherwise stated

Updated May 04, 2019

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