MARIETTA, Ga., May 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force took delivery Tuesday of the first of 111 C-5M cargo planes that will undergo modernization to extend its range and carrying capacity.
A small ceremony for the big plane was held at Lockheed Martin's Marietta, Georgia plant where C-5s are being equipped with new engines and avionics that will extend the service life of the fleet to 2040.
The program's primary feature is the installation of new General Electric CF6 engines that deliver 22-percent more thrust than the original engines. The improved power plant gives the C-5M a shorter takeoff roll and 38-percent higher climb rate, and allows the plane to carrier larger cargo loads over longer distances at a reduced per-mile cost.
In addition, the avionics have been upgraded with digital flight control and autopilot systems, better navigation and communications, and flat panel displays.
"More than 70 improvements have been implemented to increase mission capable rates to new highs, and new avionics meet current air traffic management requirements and ensure system compatibility for future growth," summed up Lockheed Vice President George Shultz. "The C-5M Super Galaxy will be the only strategic airlift resource with reduced total ownership cost and continual savings in operations and maintenance."
The total cost of the C-5M program has been pegged at about $13 billion; however that compares to estimates of $38 billion the Air Force would have to spend on new planes to achieve the same increase in cargo-carrying capacity.