C-5M Super Galaxy Completes Developmental Testing in Alaska and Australia

1/12/2009 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, CA -- The C-5M Super Galaxy completed its second and final Integrated Systems Evaluation test, flying a 56-hour, 27,000-mile mission around the Pacific Rim, including stops in Alaska and Australia.

The C-5 Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program is the second major improvement project for the largest aircraft in the U.S. inventory. The RERP adds new General Electric CF-6 engines as well as 55 other system improvements intended to increase the C-5's reliability.

The first improvement project, Avionics Modernization Program, installed digital avionics and a full glass cockpit, allowing the plane to meet current airspace requirements for navigational accuracy and air traffic management. All C-5s are scheduled to receive AMP modifications, which are currently ongoing at Dover and Travis Air Force Bases and currently, 49 C-5s are programmed to receive the RERP modification. When a C-5 has both AMP and RERP modifications, it is re-designated a C-5M Super Galaxy.

The objective of an ISE is to test the aircraft in an operationally-representative environment. Specific objectives for the second ISE included hot and cold weather operations, air refueling, and tactics. The first ISE was flown in the European theater in August, and this one expanded the test team's experience to the Pacific Theater.
Mariusz Wisniewski, a C-5 flight test engineer and key mission planner, said all objectives were met.

"We didn't get quite as hot and cold as we had hoped," he said. "We were able to subject the C-5M to environments ranging from 100 degrees in the Australian outback to minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit in the Alaskan tundra within the span of two days."

The ISE was successful despite landing gear problems, which extended the mission from 11 to 14 days, said Lance Strickland, mission test conductor.

"The most problematic issues were thrust reversers, auto throttles, and environmental cooling system," Mr. Strickland said. "However, air refueling and fuel consumption data are encouraging."

Data collected during the ISE will be used to evaluate the readiness of the C-5M for operational tests.

Maj. Aaron Tucker, experimental test pilot and ISE test force commander, said he was pleased that air refueling contacts with both a KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender showed that the C-5M can safely and effectively execute an air refueling critical to the strategic airlift mission.

"All previous contacts had a test nose boom installed," he said. "However, this ISE was flown in an operationally-representative configuration, meaning all of the specialized flight test instrumentation had been removed. This configuration is what the operational crews will fly.The C-5M handled well while air refueling with only a noticeable change in the more sensitive throttle response of the CF-6 engines compared to the original TF-39 engines on the A, B and C variations of C-5."

Major Tucker supervised several other test pilots during air refueling to enable the evaluation of the C-5M air refueling handling qualities. He will instruct the initial cadre of Air Mobility Command pilots in January.

Major Tucker gave his highest praise for the enroute bases that provided exceptional support to the test team. Eielson Air Force Base closed a taxiway for six weeks, letting snow to accumulate to allow taxi testing. Australia flew customs agents more than 600 miles inland to Alice Springs so the team could forgo a port of entry stop elsewhere.

"I can't believe the level of support we got," Major Tucker said "People stood in the heat for hours just to watch us take off. Airport personnel worked around the clock. This integrated systems evaluation is the capstone event in the developmental test program intended to improve the performance and reliability of America's largest airlifter. The C-5M Super Galaxy will further America's Global Reach with improved capability to support any mission from humanitarian assistance to combat support of the Global War on Terror by delivering more cargo, faster, while using less gas."

This ISE was the last developmental test event for the C-5M. Over the last three years, the Marietta, Ga., based combined test team of the 418th Flight Test Squadron Detachment 4, Lockheed Martin, and Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center completed a test program of 5,400 test points in 1,300 flight test hours.

Air Mobility Command will start flying two aircraft in February out of Dover Air Force Base, and the C-5M is scheduled to begin operational test in August 2009. The 418 FLTS will close its Detachment 4 at Marietta in April 2009.

Source: USAF Press Release by Lt. Col. Christopher Lindell

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