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. It 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 largestmilitary aircraft in the world.
The C-5 Galaxy's development was complicated, including significant cost overruns, and Lockheed suffered significant financial difficulties. 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 modernized avionics designed to extend its service life 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.
CX-X and Heavy Logistics System
In 1961, several aircraft companies began studying heavy jet transport designs that would replace the Douglas C-133 Cargomaster and complement Lockheed C-141 Starlifters. In addition to higher overall performance, the United States Army wanted a transport aircraft with a larger cargo bay than the C-141, whose interior was too small to carry a variety of their outsized equipment. These studies led to the "CX-4" design concept, but in 1962 the proposed six-engine design was rejected, because it was not viewed as a significant advance over the C-141. By late 1963, the next conceptual design was named CX-X. It was equipped with four engines, instead of six engines in the earlier CX-4 concept. The CX-X had a gross weight of 550,000 pounds (249,000 kg), a maximum payload of 180,000 lb (81,600 kg) and a speed of Mach 0.75 (500 mph or 805 km/h). The cargo compartment was 17.2 ft (5.24 m) wide by 13.5 feet (4.11 m) high and 100 ft (30.5 m) long with front and rear access doors. To meet the power and range specifications with only four engines required a new engine with dramatically improved fuel efficiency.
"We started to build the C-5 and wanted to build the biggest thing we could... Quite frankly, the C-5 program was a great contribution to commercial aviation. We'll never get credit for it, but we incentivized that industry by developing [the TF39] engine."
The criteria were finalized and an official request for proposal was issued in April 1964 for the "Heavy Logistics System" (CX-HLS) (previously CX-X). In May 1964, proposals for aircraft were received from Boeing, Douglas, General Dynamics, Lockheed, and Martin Marietta. General Electric, Curtiss-Wright, and Pratt & Whitney submitted proposals for the engines. After a downselect, Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed were given one-year study contracts for the airframe, along with General Electric and Pratt & Whitney for the engines. All three of the designs shared a number of features. The cockpit was placed well above the cargo area to allow for cargo loading through a nose door. The Boeing and Douglas designs used a pod on the top of the fuselage containing the cockpit, while the Lockheed design extended the cockpit profile down the length of the fuselage, giving it an egg-shaped cross section. All of the designs had swept wings, as well as front and rear cargo doors allowing simultaneous loading and unloading. Lockheed's design featured a T-tail, while the designs by Boeing and Douglas had conventional tails.
The Air Force considered Boeing's design to be better than that of Lockheed, but Lockheed's proposal was the lowest total cost bid. Lockheed was selected the winner in September 1965, then awarded a contract in December 1965. General Electric's TF39 engine was selected in August 1965 to power the new transport plane. At the time GE's engine concept was revolutionary, as all engines beforehand had a bypass ratio of less than two-to-one, while the TF39 promised and would achieve a ratio of eight-to-one, which had the benefits of increased engine thrust and lower fuel consumption.
The first C-5A Galaxy (serial number66-8303) was rolled out of the manufacturing plant in Marietta, Georgia, on 2 March 1968. On 30 June 1968, flight testing of the C-5A began with the first flight, flown by Leo Sullivan, with the call sign "eight-three-oh-three heavy". Flight tests revealed that the aircraft exhibited a higher drag divergence Mach number than predicted by wind tunnel data. The maximum lift coefficient measured in flight with the flaps deflected 40-degrees was higher than predicted (2.60 vs. 2.38), but was lower than predicted with the flaps deflected 25 degrees (2.31 vs. 2.38) and with the flaps retracted (1.45 vs. 1.52).
"After being one of the worst-run programs, ever, in its early years, it has evolved very slowly and with great difficulty into a nearly adequate strategic airlifter that unfortunately needs in-flight refueling or a ground stop for even the most routine long-distance flights. We spent a lot of money to make it capable of operating from unfinished airstrips near the front lines, when we never needed that capability or had any intention to use it."
Aircraft weight was a serious issue during design and development. At the time of the first flight, the weight was below the guaranteed weight, but by the time of the delivery of the 9th aircraft, had exceeded guarantees. In July 1969, during a fuselage upbending test, the wing failed at 128% of limit load, which is below the requirement that it sustain 150% of limit load. Changes were made to the wing, but during a test in July 1970, it failed at 125% of limit load. A passive load reduction system, involving uprigged ailerons was incorporated, but the maximum allowable payload was reduced from 220,000 to 190,000 lb (100,000 to 86,000 kg). At the time, it was predicted that there was a 90% probability that no more than 10% of the fleet of 79 airframes would reach their fatigue life of 19,000 hours without cracking of the wing.
Cost overruns and technical problems of the C-5A were the subject of a congressional investigation in 1968 and 1969. The C-5 program has the dubious distinction of being the first development program with a one billion dollar overrun. Due to the C-5's troubled development, the Department of Defense abandoned Total Package Procurement. In 1969, Henry Durham raised concerns about the C-5 production process with Lockheed, his employer. Subsequently, Durham was transferred and subjected to abuse until he resigned. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) substantiated some of his charges against Lockheed. Later, the American Ethical Union honored Durham with the Elliott-Black Award. The Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Management Systems, Ernest Fitzgerald, was another person whose fostering of public accountability was unwelcome.
Upon completion of testing in December 1969, the first C-5A was transferred to the Transitional Training Unit at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Lockheed delivered the first operational Galaxy to the 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston Air Force Base, SC, in June 1970. Due to higher than expected development costs, in 1970 there were public calls for the government to split the substantial losses that Lockheed was experiencing. Production was nearly brought to a halt in 1971 due to Lockheed going through financial difficulties, due in part to the C-5 Galaxy's development as well as a civilian jet liner, the Lockheed L-1011. The U.S. government gave loans to Lockheed to keep the company operational.
In the early 1970s, NASA considered the C-5 for the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft role, to transport the Space Shuttle to Kennedy Space Center. However, they rejected it in favor of the Boeing 747, in part due to the 747's low-wing design. In contrast, the Soviet Union chose to transport its shuttles using the high-winged An-225, which derives from the An-124, which is similar in design and function to the C-5.
During static and fatigue testing cracks were noticed in the wings of several aircraft, and as a consequence the C-5A fleet was restricted to 80% of maximum design loads. To reduce wing loading, load alleviation systems were added to the aircraft. By 1980, payloads were restricted to as low as 50,000 lb (23,000 kg) for general cargo during peacetime operations. A $1.5 billion program, known as H-Mod, to re-wing the 76 completed C-5As to restore full payload capability and service life began in 1976. After design and testing of the new wing design, the C-5As received their new wings from 1980 to 1987. During 1976, numerous cracks were also found in the fuselage along the upper fuselage on the centerline, aft of the refueling port, extending back to the wing. The cracks required a redesign to the hydraulic system for the visor, the front cargo entry point.
Restarted production and development
In 1974, Iran, then having good relations with the United States, offered $160 million to restart C-5 production to enable Iran to purchase aircraft for their own air force, in a similar climate as to their acquisition of F-14 Tomcat fighters. However no C-5 aircraft were ever ordered by Iran, as the prospect was firmly halted by the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
As part of President Ronald Reagan's military policy, funding was made available for expansion of the USAF's airlift capability. With the C-17 program still some years from completion, Congress approved funding for a new version of the C-5, the C-5B, in July 1982 to expand airlift capacity. The first C-5B was delivered to Altus Air Force Base in January 1986. In April 1989, the last of 50 C-5B aircraft was added to the 77 C-5As in the Air Force's airlift force structure. The C-5B includes all C-5A improvements and numerous additional system modifications to improve reliability and maintainability.
In 1998, the Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) began upgrading the C-5's avionics to include a glass cockpit, navigation equipment, and a new autopilot system. Another part of the C-5 modernization effort is the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program (RERP). The program will mainly replace the engines with newer, more powerful ones.
A total of 52 C-5s are contracted to be modernized, consisting of 49 B-, two C- and one A-model aircraft through the Reliability Enhancement and Re-Engining Program (RERP). The program features over 70 changes and upgrades, including the newer General Electric engines. Three C-5s underwent RERP for testing purposes. Low-rate initial production started in August 2009 with Lockheed reaching full production in May 2011. 22 C-5M Super Galaxies have been completed as of August 2014. The RERP upgrade program is to be completed in early 2018.
As of 2014[update] Lockheed is investigating drag reduction by plasma-heating of turbulent transonic airflow in critical points, saving overall weight by reducing fuel consumption. The Air Force Research Laboratory is looking at shape-memory alloy for speed dependent vortex generators.
The C-5 is a large high-wing cargo aircraft with a distinctive high T-tail fin (vertical) stabilizer, and with four TF39turbofan engines mounted on pylons beneath wings that are swept 25 degrees. Similar in layout to its smaller predecessor, the C-141 Starlifter, the C-5 has 12 internal wing tanks and is equipped for aerial refueling. Above the plane-length cargo deck, it provides an upper deck for flight operations and for seating 75 passengers including the embarked loadmaster crew, all who face to the rear of the aircraft during flight. Full-open(able) bay doors at both nose and tail enable "drive-through" loading and unloading of cargo.
The cargo hold of the C-5 is one foot longer than the entire length of the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk. For its voracious consumption of fuel and its maintenance and reliability issues the Galaxy's aircrews have nicknamed it FRED, for: Fucking[N 1] Ridiculous, Economic/Environmental Disaster.
Takeoff and landing distance requirements for the plane at maximum-load gross weight are 8,300 ft (2,500 m) and 4,900 ft (1,500 m), respectively. Its high flotation main landing gear provides 28 wheels to distribute gross weight on paved or earth surfaces. The rear main landing gear can be made to caster to make a smaller turning radius, and rotates 90 degrees after takeoff before being retracted. "Kneeling" landing gear permits lowering the aircraft when parked, thereby presenting the cargo deck at truck-bed height to facilitate loading and unloading operations.
The C-5 features a Malfunction Detection Analysis and Recording (MADAR) system to identify errors throughout the aircraft.
The cargo compartment is 121 ft (37 m) long, 13.5 ft (4.1 m) high, and 19 ft (5.8 m) wide, or just over 31,000 cu ft (880 m3). It can accommodate up to 36 463L master pallets or a mix of palletized cargo and vehicles. The nose and aft cargo-bay doors open the full width and height of the cargo bay to maximize efficient loading of oversized equipment. Full width ramps enable loading double rows of vehicles from either end of the cargo hold.
The C-5 Galaxy is capable of moving nearly every type of military combat equipment, including such bulky items as the Army armored vehicle launched bridge (AVLB), at 74 short tons (67 t), from the United States to any location on the globe; and of accommodating up to six Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters or five Bradley Fighting Vehicles at one time.
The first C-5A was delivered to the USAF on 17 December 1969. Wings were built up in the early 1970s at Altus AFB, Oklahoma; Charleston AFB, South Carolina; Dover AFB, Delaware; and Travis AFB, California. The C-5's first mission was on 9 July 1970, in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. C-5s were used to transport equipment and troops, including Army tanks and even some small aircraft, throughout the later years of the US action in Vietnam. In the final weeks of the war, prior to the Fall of Saigon, several C-5s were involved in evacuation efforts. During one such mission a C-5A crashed while transporting a large number of orphans, with over 140 killed.
C-5s have also been used to deliver support and reinforce various US allies over the years. During the Yom Kippur war in 1973, multiple C-5s and C-141 Starlifters delivered critical supplies of ammunition, replacement weaponry and other forms of aid to Israel, the US effort was named as Operation Nickel Grass. The C-5 Galaxy's performance in Israel was such that the Pentagon began to consider further purchases. The C-5 was regularly made available to support American allies, such as the British-led peacekeeper initiative in Zimbabwe in 1979.
On 24 October 1974, the Space and Missile Systems Organization successfully conducted an Air Mobile Feasibility Test where a C-5A Galaxy aircraft air dropped an 86,000 lb Minuteman ICBM from 20,000 ft over the Pacific Ocean. The missile descended to 8,000 ft before its rocket engine fired. The 10-second engine burn carried the missile to 20,000 ft again before it dropped into the ocean. The test proved the feasibility of launching an intercontinental ballistic missile from the air. Operational deployment was discarded due to engineering and security difficulties, though the capability was used as a negotiating point in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. Aircraft 69-0014, "Zero-One-Four" used in the test was retired to the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base.
The C-5 has been used for several unusual functions. During the development of the secretive stealth fighter, the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, Galaxies were often used to carry partly disassembled aircraft, leaving no exterior signs as to their cargo. The C-5 remains the largest aircraft to operate in the Antarctic, capable of operating from Williams Field near McMurdo Station. The C-5 Galaxy was a major supply asset in the international coalition operations in 1990-91 against Iraq in the Gulf War. C-5s have routinely delivered relief aid and humanitarian supplies to areas afflicted with natural disasters or crisis; multiple flights were made over Rwanda in 1994.
The wings on the C-5As were replaced during the 1980s to restore full design capability. The USAF took delivery of the first C-5B on 28 December 1985 and the final one in April 1989. The reliability of the C-5 fleet has been a continued issue throughout its lifetime, however the C-5M upgrade program seeks in part to address this issue. Their strategic airlift capacity has been a key logistical component of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Following an incident during Operation Iraqi Freedom where one C-5 was damaged by a projectile, the installation of defensive systems has become a stated priority.
The C-5 AMP and RERP modernization programs plan to raise mission-capable rate to a minimum goal of 75%. Over the next 40 years, the U.S. Air Force estimates the C-5M will save over $20 billion. The first C-5M conversion was completed on 16 May 2006 and C-5Ms began test flights at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in June 2006. The USAF decided to convert remaining C-5Bs and C-5Cs into C-5Ms with avionics upgrades and re-engining in February 2008. The C-5As will receive only the avionics upgrades.
In response to Air Force plans to retire older C-5 aircraft, Congress implemented legislation that set limits on retirement plans for C-5As in 2003. As of November 2013, 45 C-5As have been retired, 11 have been scrapped, parts of one (A/C 66-8306) are now a cargo load trainer at Lackland AFB, Texas and one was sent to the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center (WR-ALC) for tear down and inspection to evaluate structural integrity and estimate the remaining life for the fleet.
The U.S. Air Force began to receive refitted C-5M aircraft in December 2008. Full production of C-5Ms began in the summer of 2009. In 2009, the Congressional ban on the retirement of C-5s was overturned. The Air Force seeks to retire one C-5A for each 10 new C-17s ordered. In October 2011, the 445th Airlift Wing based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base replaced all remaining C-5s with C-17s. The C-5M reached initial operating capability (IOC) on 24 February 2014 with 16 aircraft delivered.
On 13 September 2009, a C-5M set 41 new records and flight data was submitted to the National Aeronautic Association for formal recognition. The C-5M had carried a payload of 176,610 lb (80,110 kg) to over 41,100 ft (12,500 m) in 23 minutes, 59 seconds. Additionally, 33 time to climb records at various payload classes were set, and the world record for greatest payload to 6,562 ft (2,000 m) was broken. The aircraft was in the category of 551,200 to 661,400 lb (250,000 to 300,000 kg) with a takeoff weight of 649,680 lb (294,690 kg) including payload, fuel, and other equipment.
On 18 July 2017, C-5s based at Dover were ordered to stand down so maintenance crews could determine the cause for some nose landing gear failing.
The C-5A is the original version of the C-5. From 1969 to 1973, 81 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 77 C-5As was conducted from 1981 to 1987. The redesigned wing made use of a new aluminum alloy that did not exist during the original production. As of August 2016, there were 10 A-models in service flown by the Air Force Reserve Command 433d Airlift Wing at Lackland AFB, Texas, and 439th Airlift Wing at Westover ARB, Massachusetts. The last operational C-5A was retired on 7 September 2017.
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. 50 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-5s (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. The official C-5 technical manual refers to the version as C-5A(SCM) Space Cargo Modified. Modifications also included adding a second inlet for ground power, which can feed any power-dependent equipment that may form part of the cargo. The two C-5Cs are operated by U.S. Air Force crews for DOD spacecraft programs and NASA, and are stationed at Travis AFB, California. Both C-5Cs #68-0213 and #68-0216 have been modified into C-5Ms as of 2017.
C-5 AMP and C-5M Super Galaxy
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 (85-0004) occurred on 21 December 2002.
The Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program (RERP) began in 2006. It includes new General ElectricF138-GE-100 (CF6-80C2) engines, pylons and auxiliary power units, upgrades to aircraft skin and frame, landing gear, cockpit and pressurization systems. Each CF6 engine produces 22% more thrust (50,000 lbf or 220 kN), providing a 30% shorter takeoff, a 38% higher climb rate to initial altitude, an increased cargo load and a longer range.[specify] Upgraded C-5s are designated C-5M Super Galaxy.
Lockheed also planned a civilian version of the C-5 Galaxy, the L-500, the company designation also used for the C-5 itself. Both passenger and cargo versions of the L-500 were designed. The all-passenger version would have been able to carry up to 1,000 travelers, while the all-cargo version was predicted to be able to carry typical C-5 volume for as little as 2 cents per ton-mile (in 1967 dollars). Although some interest was expressed by carriers, no orders were placed for either L-500 version, due to operational costs caused by low fuel efficiency, a significant concern for a profit-making carrier, even before the oil crisis of the 1970s, keen competition from Boeing's 747, and high costs incurred by Lockheed in developing the C-5 and later, the L-1011 which led to the governmental rescue of the company.
C-5 Shuttle Carrier
Lockheed proposed a twin body C-5 as a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft to counter the Conroy Virtus, but the design was turned down in favor of the Boeing 747.
- United States Air Force
- The C-5 is limited to military and government use. The U.S. Air Force has 48 C-5s in service as of September 2016.
- 60th Military Airlift Wing/Air Mobility Wing - Travis Air Force Base, California
- 21st Airlift Squadron, 1993–2006
- 22nd Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1972–present
- 75th Military Airlift Squadron, 1970–1992
- 436th Military Airlift Wing/Airlift Wing - Dover Air Force Base, Delaware
- 3d Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1973–2007
- 9th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1971–present
- 31st Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1989–1994
- 437th Military Airlift Wing - Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina
- 3d Military Airlift Squadron, 1970–1973
- 443d Military Airlift Wing - Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma
- 56th Military Airlift Squadron, 1969–1992
- 349th Military Airlift Wing/Air Mobility Wing(Associate) - Travis Air Force Base, California
- 301st Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1973–2006
- 312th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1973–present
- 433d Military Airlift Wing/Airlift Wing - Kelly/Lackland Air Force Base, Texas
- 68th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1985—present
- 356th Airlift Squadron, 2007–present
- 439th Military Airlift Wing/Airlift Wing - Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts
- 337th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1987–present
- 445th Airlift Wing - Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
- 89th Airlift Squadron, 2006–2012
- 512th Military Airlift Wing/Airlift Wing(Associate) - Dover Air Force Base, Delaware
- 326th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1973–2007
- 709th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron, 1973–present
Incidents and accidents
Three C-5 Galaxy aircraft have been lost in crashes along with two class-A losses resulting from ground fire, with a combined total of 169 fatalities. At least two other C-5 crashes have resulted in major airframe damage, but the aircraft were repaired and returned to service.
- On 27 May 1970, C-5A AF Serial No. 67-0172 was destroyed during a ground fire at Palmdale, California after an Air Turbine Motor (ATM) started backwards and quickly overheated, setting the hydraulic system on fire and consuming the aircraft. The engines were not running at the time of the fire. Five crew escaped, and seven firefighters suffered minor injuries fighting the blaze.
- On 17 October 1970, C-5A AF Serial No. 66-8303 was destroyed during a ground fire at the Lockheed Aircraft plant at Dobbins AFB in Marietta, Georgia. The fire started during maintenance in one of the aircraft's 12 fuel cells. One worker was killed and another injured. This was the first C-5 aircraft produced.
- On 27 September 1974, C-5A Serial No. 68-0227 crashed after over-running the runway at Clinton, Oklahoma Municipal Airport during an emergency landing following a serious landing gear fire. The crew mistakenly aligned the aircraft for the visual approach into the wrong airport, landing at Clinton Municipal Airport, which has a 4,400 ft (1,300 m) runway—instead of the airfield at Clinton-Sherman Industrial Airpark (former Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base), which has a 13,500 ft (4,100 m) runway. This was the first operational loss of a C-5 Galaxy.
- On 4 April 1975, C-5A Serial No.68-0218 crashed while carrying orphans out of Vietnam during Operation Babylift. This crash is one of the most notorious C-5 accidents to date. The crash occurred while trying to make an emergency landing at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Saigon, following a rear pressure door lock failure in flight. 144 people (including 78 children) were killed out of the 313 aboard (243 children, 44 escorts, 16 flight crew and 10 medical crew). Use of the C-5 was heavily restricted for several months following this high-profile accident.
- On 31 July 1983, C-5A Serial No. 70-0446 crashed on landing at Shemya, Alaska. The C-5 approached below the glide slope, hit an embankment short of the runway and bounced back into the air before coming to rest on the runway. Structural damage was extensive and the two aft main landing gear bogies were sheared from the aircraft. There were no fatalities. A joint USAF–Lockheed team made repairs, enabling a ferry flight from Shemya to the Lockheed plant in Marietta, Georgia. There, the aircraft was quickly dubbed Phoenix II and permanent repair efforts got under way. In addition to the structural repairs, Phoenix II also received an improved landing gear system (common to the then-new C-5B), wing modification, and a color weather radar upgrade. The aircraft was returned to service.
- In July 1983, C-5A Serial No. 68-0216 landed gear up at Travis Air Force Base, California. There were no injuries. The accident occurred while the crew was performing touch-and-go landings, and did not lower the landing gear during the final approach of the day. The aircraft received significant damage to the lower fuselage and main landing gear pods. The C-5A was later flown to Marietta for repairs. While there, the aircraft was selected to be the first C-5A converted to the C-5C configuration.
- In late December 1988, C-5A Serial No. 70-0450 caught fire in flight while being flown on a local training flight at and near Travis AFB, California. The fire originated shortly after the training mission began in the "center wing" area. Likely cause was a ruptured hydraulic line, which led to "hydraulic misting", and was ignited by an electrical source. The fire was not detected by the crew in flight, since it was more than 100 feet behind the nearest crew member and in an enclosed area. The fire was not detected until after the aircraft had landed. The captain declared an emergency with Travis Ground Control, executed emergency shutdown procedures, and ordered an evacuation. The fire continued to rage for almost an hour until it was extinguished by the fire department. The aircraft was later repaired, but not used again for cargo flights. It is now in storage at Davis Monthan AFB, AZ.
- On 29 August 1990, C-5A Serial No. 68-0228 crashed following an engine failure shortly after take-off. The aircraft took off from Ramstein Air Base in Germany in support of Operation Desert Shield. It was flown by a nine-member reserve crew from the 68th Airlift Squadron, 433d Airlift Wing based at Kelly AFB, Texas. As the aircraft started to climb off the runway, one of the thrust reversers suddenly deployed. This resulted in loss of control of the aircraft and the subsequent crash. Of the 17 people on board, only four survived the crash. All four were in the rear troop compartment. The sole crew member to survive, Staff Sgt. Lorenzo Galvan, Jr., was awarded the Airman's Medal for his actions in evacuating the survivors from the wreckage.
- On 3 April 2006, C-5B Serial No. 84-0059 crashed following a cockpit indication that a thrust reverser was not locked. The C-5B assigned to the 436th Airlift Wing and flown by a reserve crew from the 709th Airlift Squadron, 512th Airlift Wing crashed about 2,000 ft (610 m) short of the runway while attempting a heavyweight emergency landing at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The aircraft had taken off from Dover 21 minutes earlier and reported an in-flight emergency ten minutes into the flight. All 17 people aboard survived, but two received serious injuries. The Air Force's accident investigation board report concluded the cause to be human error, most notably the crew had been manipulating the throttle of the (dead) number-two engine as if it were still running while keeping the (live) number-three engine at idle. The situation was further worsened by the crew's decision to use a high flap setting that increased drag beyond normal two-engine capabilities. The aircraft was one of the first to receive the new avionics and glass flight displays for C-5 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP). This accident led to a redesign of the cockpit engine displays, particularly the visual indicators of a non-active engine. The aircraft was declared a total hull-loss and the airframe was scrapped, but the forward fuselage became a C-5 AMP test bed.
Aircraft on display
Data from Quest for Performance, International Directory of Military Aircraft, and USAF fact sheet
- Crew: 7 typical (aircraft commander, pilot, two flight engineers, three loadmasters)
4 minimum (pilot, copilot, two flight engineers)
- Payload: 270,000 lb (122,470 kg)
- Length: 247 ft 1 in (75.31 m)
- Wingspan: 222 ft 9 in (67.89 m)
- Height: 65 ft 1 in (19.84 m)
- Wing area: 6,200 ft2 (576 m2)
- Empty weight: 380,000 lb (172,371 kg)
- Useful load: 389,000 lb (176,450 kg)
- Loaded weight: 769,000 lb (348,800 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 840,000 lb (381,000 kg) ; [N 2]
- Powerplant: 4 × General Electric TF39-GE-1C high-bypass turbofan, 43,000 lbf (190 kN) each
- Maximum speed: Mach 0.79 (462 kn, 531 mph, 855 km/h)
- Cruise speed: Mach 0.77 (450 kn, 518 mph, 833 km/h)
- Range: 2,400 nmi (2,760 mi, 4,440 km) with a 263,200 lb (119,400 kg) payload
- Service ceiling: 35,700 ft (10,600 m) at 615,000 lb (279,000 kg) gross weight
- Rate of climb: 1,800 ft/min (9.14 m/s)
- Wing loading: 120 lb/ft2 (610 kg/m2)
- Thrust/weight: 0.22
- Takeoff roll: 8,400 ft (2,600 m)
- Landing roll: 3,600 ft (1,100 m)
- Fuel capacity: 51,150 US gal (193,600 L)
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Related lists
Studies in Ethics, Safety, and Liability for Engineers
Kurt Hoover and Wallace T. Fowler
The C-5 Galaxy: A Question of Need?
The C-5 Galaxy is the largest airplane in the free world. It can haul 250,000 lb of equipment; it is 246 ft long and has a wing span of 233 ft. The enormous tail reaches as high as a six story building and when the airplane lands the pilot is still three stories off the ground. The interior cargo compartment is as big as an eight lane bowling alley and longer than the Wright brothers first flight. To many people who equate size with greatness, the C-5 is a worthy triumph of American aerospace engineering. At the time of its creation, it was lauded by both Lockheed and the USAF as the best America could create. However, from its conception to the present day, the C-5 has provided examples of many of the worst problems with the weapons procurement system in this country. Today, the C-5 is an airplane with a greatly diminished and restricted mission, unable to fulfill the role for which it was designed. Despite the best intentions of all those involved in its design and production, the C-5 will never play more than a token role in the defense of this nation.
The Need for the C-5:
The idea for the C-5 originated in the early 1960s; a fleet of giant cargo aircraft would allow the United States to move large quantities of troops and equipment to any place in the world in a matter of days. No longer would large numbers of U. S. troops have to be garrisoned abroad in distant lands to maintain America's military presence. With several C-5 squadrons, America could project its military power anywhere, anytime, without the expense of maintaining permanent facilities overseas.
Of course the USAF (United States Air Force) was not without cargo planes in the 1960s. The most successful was the C-130 Hercules. This turboprop driven airplane, designed and built by Lockheed, could land, release its cargo, and then take-off in only 3800 ft. The C-130 is a very versatile aircraft and today over 1800 of them are still serving the Air Force as gunships, cargo transports, and tankers. Despite the fact that it was designed in the 1950s, the C-130 continues to be one of the most useful aircraft in the USAF inventory. As military planners considered the available cargo aircraft in 1960, they determined it was necessary to have a larger jet powered cargo airplane. In 1964, the USAF began acquiring the C-141 Starlifter. Unfortunately Army paraphernalia continued to grow in size and by 1964 only one third of it fit through the C-141 cargo doors. In order to help the Army deploy rapidly, the USAF needed a larger cargo aircraft to haul the really big equipment.
The Ultimate Cargo Airplane:
To satisfy the increasing airlift needs, the USAF developed an RFP (Request For Proposal) in May of 1964. The new aircraft was to be the ultimate transport aircraft. Its ability to land fully loaded on dirt runways no longer than 4,000 ft. would allow combat and support equipment to be delivered right to the front lines. A complex system of slats and flaps would allow the aircraft to accomplish short take-offs and landings. The specifications called for the airplane to operate in temperatures ranging from -65oF to 120oF. A built-in malfunction detector was to monitor 600 critical systems and provide recommended fixes for any system failure. A special system was proposed to deflate and re-inflate the tires to facilitate landing gear stowage and to facilitate landings on unpaved runways. Built in ramps were included to facilitate rapid loading and unloading through both the front and rear cargo doors.
Competition for the C-5 Contract:
Three companies, Boeing, Lockheed, and Douglas, bid for the C-5 airframe contract. The original proposal called for a fleet of 115 planes. Each company received money from the USAF to develop its proposal. When the proposals were finally submitted, Boeing set the cost of the program at $2.3 billion, Douglas at $2.0 billion, and Lockheed at $1.9 billion. A USAF team consisting of 400 officers and civilians evaluated the proposals and selected the Boeing design based on its technical superiority. However, this decision was overruled by high level DOD (Department of Defense) managers and the contract given to Lockheed because of its lower bid.
At the time the C-5 contract was awarded, there was great concern within DOD about the cost of weapons systems. A 1962 study of twelve major weapons systems showed that the average program ended up costing 220% of the original estimated cost. To counter the trend of over-budget programs, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara developed the Total Package Procurement procedure (TPP). Under this procedure, a contractor was required to incorporate all costs in the bid, including initial design, final design, manufacture, testing, training, and spare parts. The central idea of the procedure was to required a company to submit a bid for all these components. The company was to be held to this price by the USAF, eliminating cost overruns.
However, almost nothing in the military industrial complex is simple. One of the major reasons that Lockheed was awarded the C-5 contract was DOD's desire to retain Lockheed as a viable defense contractor. In Marietta, Georgia, production on the C-130 and C-141 was winding down. Had Lockheed not won the C-5 contract, thousands of people at Lockheed Georgia would have been laid-off. The giant defense contractor, which was also the sole source of Polaris and Poseidon missiles, would have been in serious financial trouble. Although Lockheed's bid was the lowest, there was no guarantee that their costs would remain the lowest despite the TPP procedure.
When a contractor wins a defense contract, that victory is usually based as much on politics as technical competence. It is the duty of every Senator and Representative to further the interest of his constituents; this is the whole idea behind representative democracy. However, this sometimes presents the politician with an ethical dilemma. What if the interests of his constituents conflict with the interests of the nation as a whole? The question is further complicated by the complexities inherent in determining what is truly good for America as a whole.
The Need for the C-5 (reexamined):
In the case of the C-5, there were some military experts who said the whole project was not good for the country and not even necessary. They believed that ships and existing aircraft could move the Army as rapidly as was likely to be necessary. The expected cost of moving cargo by C-5 was 15� per ton versus only 1� per ton by ship. In addition the ability to move larger amounts of equipment might actually destabilize world politics. Instead of allowing America to maintain world peace through the threat of rapid deployment, the acquisition of the C-5 might lead America to interject itself into places it did not belong.
However, most military experts and most members of Congress saw the C-5 as a necessary part of the nation's defense. The Georgia congressional delegation, particularly Senator Russell, who chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee, strongly supported the C-5 program. The C-5 also had widespread bipartisan support because of the diverse geographical locations of its many subcontractors. At one point, 2000 subcontractors in 41 different states participated in the C-5 program. For many Congressman, a vote against the C-5 was a vote against jobs back home. This fact, combined with the USAF's aggressive support for the program, assured the C-5 of Congressional funding.
Problems with the Airplane and the Contract:
Lockheed's struggle to win the C-5 contract was a success, but the company's troubles were far from over. The shear size and complexity of the C-5 made it a very difficult project to complete. Because of the size of the engineering task, Lockheed was forced to hire contract labor; and at one point 850 engineers from British Aerospace were contracted to the project. The difficulties of regularly transferring detailed information across the Atlantic hampered vital communications and slowed the project. Engineering and production problems developed with many of the C-5's systems. The design of the wing proved particularly difficult and ultimately required a complete redesign after production had begun. The design of the undercarriage which allowed the massive plane to make short take-offs and landings created additional complications. Lockheed also had problems with its subcontractors. The advanced multi-model radar was particularly troublesome, and ultimately was scrapped for a simpler system. Development problems ultimately delayed the start of manufacture of the first prototype by more than a year.
Despite the use of the TPP procedure, the C-5 contract still contained many of the problems endemic to other defense contracts. During the course of design and testing, there were 46 major changes to the design and 789 changes in the contract specifications. Some of the changes were quite minor, but some, such as the redesigned wing and the new radar, were significant and required a much additional time and money. Many of the specification changes were written by the USAF because the Lockheed design could not perform up to the original specifications. The most glaring example was the inability of the wing to function with a fully loaded plane. The contract called for the C-5 to be able to carry 150% of its legal load limit. FAA regulations require commercial airliners to be able to carry 200% of their legal limit. The C-5 could carry no more than 128% of its legal limit and on one flight developed wing cracks when only 82% full. This problem necessitated redesign of the wing for future Galaxies and replacement of the wings on the existing Galaxies.
Underbidding and Run B:
Lockheed had originally won the contract because of its low bid of $1.9 billion for the whole program; this translated into a cost of $16.5 million per plane. However, by early 1969, Lockheed was estimating the cost at about $40 million per plane. Most knowledgeable people agreed that Lockheed could never have produced the airplanes for $16.5 million each, even without all the problems and complications. The company had bought into the contract with the intent of recouping its loses and making a profit on the second production run.
The C-5 contract called for two separate production runs. Run A was to be priced according to the original bid. Run B was to be priced according to a complicated formula, which incorporated the actual production costs of Run A. The higher the Run A cost, the more the USAF would pay for each plane in Run B. Thus, it was to Lockheed's advantage to increase the production costs of Run A.
Unfortunately for Lockheed, Run B was not a sure thing. Troubled by cost overruns in Run A and rumors of poor performance of the C-5, Congress took a greater interest in the program. At the same time, a USAF study showed that the three squadrons in Run A would be sufficient and that a second production run was not necessary. This study was quickly disavowed by the top people in the USAF and DOD. Most of the Pentagon witnesses testifying before Congress insisted that the C-5 was absolutely essential to national defense and was not nearly as much over cost as rumored. The truth was that neither the USAF nor Lockheed really knew how much the project was over-budget or what the ultimate cost of a Galaxy would be.
Despite the lack of accurate cost figures, the USAF placed the order for Run B in January 1969. All that remained was for Congress to allocate the money. At that time, however, stories of the waste and fraud in the C-5 program were appearing in major papers all over the country. Congressmen began to receive large amounts of mail from their constituents demanding an end to the program. Faced with this onslaught of negative publicity, the USAF and Lockheed counterattacked with their own publicity campaign. Lockheed and several C-5 subcontractors took out full page adds in magazines such as Time and Newsweek, where they glowingly sold the merits of their plane. DOD witnesses continued to strenuously urge Congress to approve funds for Run B.
Lockheed�s Financial Difficulties:
All the negative publicity had a strong effect on Lockheed stock. After winning the C-5 contract, the stock rose to a high of $62 a share. With the concern over Lockheed's financial condition, the stock fell first to $30 in 1969 and continued falling until it reached only $7 a share in 1971. For several years progress payments by the USAF for the C-5 had represented almost 25% of Lockheed revenue. If Lockheed lost the C-5 contract, it would surely have caused bankruptcy for an already struggling company.
A No Win Situation:
DOD could not allow Lockheed to go bankrupt. Without some form of federal assistance, however, it was only a matter of time before this happened. DOD attempted to secure additional credit for Lockheed, but the prospect of large loses on the current production run and no additional production run to recoup the loses discouraged any bank from extending Lockheed credit. The company threatened to default on the first production run unless it received more money. An increasingly frustrated Congress debated cancelling the program or substituting the Boeing 747 at $22 million each for the Galaxy which had risen in price to almost $60 million each. Finally, DOD developed a compromise solution. A second production run of 24 planes would be authorized. In addition $200 million would be appropriated for a discretionary fund to fix the problems with the C-5 design and bring the already manufactured airplanes up to standard.
When the DOD proposed its compromise solution, it admitted that the C-5 had become an embarrassing problem. The program had progressed too far to cancel entirely and it would have been too costly to modify the 747 to assume the C-5 role. The compromise was an attempt to make the best of a bad situation. There were no winners, only losers.
Lockheed was left in a very bad financial position. The downturn in the aerospace industry in the early 1970s hit the company particularly hard. Even with the second run and the the discretionary fund, the company came perilously close to bankruptcy. Major layoffs and corporate restructuring followed. It took the company several years to recover from the financial setback. Although Lockheed had originally bought into the contract, top officials felt the company had been cheated by the government. Ultimately, however, the government purchased another fifty planes which allowed Lockheed to continue production at a reduced rate for several years.
The United States Air Force:
The USAF received 139 planes that are amazing to look at and can carry a tremendous load if they are in flying condition. Because of their propensity to break down and their general operating difficulties, the C-5s do not often fly. Stories of massive cost overruns and of $7000 coffee makers come from the C-5 program and continue to haunt defense spending today. Perhaps worst of all, the C-5 program seems to have made all parties involved in defense procurement involved cynical and willing to accept the problems in the procedure as a necessary evil. While attempts have been made to improve the procedure, it still is rife with problems. The current attempt to fight waste and poor quality relies on regulation, after-the-fact inspections, and punitive penalties. Unfortunately, it is not possible to regulate or intimidate quality into existence.
The biggest loser of all, is probably the American taxpayer whose money ultimately paid for everything. Everyone, engineers, businessmen, bureaucrats, generals, and Congressmen had their own agenda which they vigorously pursued. In such situations it is difficult to balance the conflicting goals of diverse groups. Millions and billions of dollars are sometimes tossed around like play money. People are always more careful with their own money, but in the case of defense procurement the money does not seem to belong to anyone. Defense procurement is extremely complex by its nature. A variety of technical, monetary, and political agendas and constraints make it difficult to accomplish goals within a reasonable time, with high quality, and on budget.
Several ethical issues are raised by examining the history of the C-5. In the simplest terms, maintaining good ethical conduct requires a person to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong and follow the course that the person determines is correct. Frequently, it is not so simple; right and wrong are not clearly marked, and a person must use his best judgement. Some of the ethical issues associated with the C-5 are listed below.
- How does a Representative or Senator balance the needs of the nation against his or her desire to stay in office?
- Did Lockheed's management commit a breach of ethics by buying into the contract at a price they probably knew they could not maintain?
- Did Lockheed oversell the capabilities of the C-5 to the Air Force?
- Did the USAF compound the problems by ignoring its own internal reports?
- Did any of the parties behave outside of the accepted norms of society? Are these norms ethically correct?
- Does knowingly buying a flawed product in order to keep a defense contractor in business and to keep its employees in work constitute military involvement in our nation's welfare programs?
- How does all of this affect the average engineer working on the project? Does the engineer have a responsibility to consider the ultimate use of the project?
- Is the government ethically bound to accept the lowest bid when all indications are that the final costs may be much higher than the bid?
- Willeinson, Stephan, �Big.�, Air & Space/Smithsonian, Volume 4, Number 3, August / September 1989. Washington D.C. pp 28-38.
- Rice, Berkely, The C-5A Scandal. . Houghton Mifflin Corporation. Boston, MA. 1971
- Hadley, Arthur T., The Straw Giant. . Avon Books. New York, NY. 1987
The multitude of problem encountered in the conception, design, development ,and funding of the C-5 is complex. However, three general questions can be asked. Was the need for the C-5 real? Did Lockheed act properly in bidding for and executing the contract? Did the Congress of the United States and the Executive Branch make an honest attempt to act in the best interests of the country as a whole?
Many conflicting factors were considered in reaching answering these three questions. Those responsible for high budget programs such as the C-5 must attempt to identify and evaluate many competing facts and objectives.
Read the General Information provided on the C-5 Galaxy. Consider each of the following questions carefully in light of that information and write a complete and grammatically correct paragraph answering each.
- Why did the USAF really need the C-5?
- Should Lockheed have won the contract just because its bid was the lowest? What other factors should be considered in awarding the contract?
- Were the aircraft specifications in the RFP realistic? Was Lockheed's proposal honest? Did Lockheed promise more airplane than could be delivered for the price bid?
- What if Lockheed had not won the contract and had been forced to lay-off thousands of workers?
- How does a Senator or Representative balance the needs of the nation as a whole against the needs of his constituents?
- Why do you think the USAF ignored its own internal studies which suggested that the C-5 program was no necessary?
- Did Congress properly perform its oversight duty?
- Considering the large number of bills on which a Congressman is required to vote, it is difficult to be thoroughly informed on all issues? On matters of military issues, Congressman frequently except the word and opinions of the military? Does this represent a conflict of interest?
- How does might an engineer deal with pressure from above to follow a course of action he knows to be wrong?
- How might the process of defense procurement be improved?
Choose one of the following statements, research the topic, and write a two page paper in which you explore the impact of the topic on the C-5 acquisition.
- In 1964, the United States Air Force identified a need for a very large transport plane. Was this need real?
- The RFP for the C-5 Galaxy called for many state of the art subsystems, and many concepts which had never been tried before. What advances were called for and how were these specifications met?
- Despite they fact that the Boeing design was judged technically superior by the USAF team, Lockheed won the contract to develop and produce the C-5. Many people believed that Lockheed deliberately submitted a bid which they could not meet, with the expectation of recovering the losses in later phases of the project. Discuss the ethics of this situation.
- The Total Package Procurement Procedure (TPP) was supposed to limit the eliminate cost overruns on government weapons procurement contracts. Obviously, it did not work. What went wrong?
- Maintaining Lockheed as a viable defense contractor was a major concern for the Pentagon. Are procurements such as the C-5 justifiable on these grounds?
- Senators and Representatives of Congress are placed in a difficult position when required to vote on contracts which provide jobs in their districts. How should such situations be handled?
- After problems began to develop with the C-5 program, an Air Force report suggested reducing or cancelling the program. Top Pentagon officials and influential Congressman ignored this report. Was there anything that the authors of the report could do?
- The original design for the C-5 wing could not carry the required 150% of its legal load, which required the entire wing to be redesigned. The planes already manufactured had to be re-winged. What was the root cause of this design problem?
- The threatened cancelling of production Run B by Congress caused a massive drop in the price of Lockheed stock. Should Run B have been cancelled?
- Faced with the prospect of a bankrupt Lockheed, and an ineffective transport plane, the Department of Defense developed a compromise solution. A $200 million discretionary fund was authorized to fix the problems, and a second limited production run of 24 planes was authorized. Discuss the wisdom of using discretionary funds in this manner.
- There were no winners in the C-5 fiasco. Lockheed company suffered large financial losses and took years to recover fully. The Air Force received a plane which did not meet many of the original objectives at more than twice the original price. The American public was stuck paying for everything. What lessons should we have learned from this situation? Assignment C:
Divide the class into small groups, no more than three to a group. Each group is to choose one of the four roles outlined below and develop a statements outlining the position represented by those in your role on C-5 program. Develop two statements: (1) what you think was the position of those in your role, and (2) the position that those in your role should have taken.
- Lockheed Management: Your major objective must be to make sure that your company is profitable. You must maintain good relations with the government that employs your company, but at the same time you must try to get as must money as possible out of the government.
- USAF: Your group is split. Most believe that the C-5 is very necessary, but some believe it is unnecessary. Among career military officers, there is a strong tendency to bypass controversial issues which can only hinder one's career. In addition, turf battles exist with the other branches or the armed services, and the constant maneuvering necessary to maintain your funding require a certain amount of "looking the other way". At the same time, your members are passionately committed to the protection of this country.
- Congress: Like the USAF, your group is split. Some members want the program only for the jobs it provides. Others believe that the plane is needed. Some want to cancel the program and put the money in their own projects. Others feel that the program does not benefit the country. All must answer to the voters, and all must avoid appearing unpatriotic or soft on national defense.
Working in three person groups, develop a realistic procedure for dealing with some of the problems of defense procurement. Remember that the procedure must create at least some form of concensus among individuals and organizations with different objectives, backgrounds, and priorities. Do not attempt to identify every threat to national security. Instead begin with a specific scenario in mind, (Kuwait Invasion by Iraq, Conventional Conflict in the Near East, Revolt in Russia, Iranian Terrorism, Ground War in Europe, Drug Wars in South America, Central American Revolution, etc.). Part of your work will require that you develop a methodology for weighing potential costs and benefits for various systems and programs. Remember that in the real world, personalities are often the dominant factor in a decision.
Working in three person groups, consider the problems of an average engineer at Lockheed. Is this engineer likely to be aware of the political forces surrounding the contract? Should the engineer consider what the ultimate use the work will be? Should he or she try to determine whether the job at hand is truly in the best interests of the nation? Will his or her efforts lead to a weapon which makes the world safer or more dangerous? If the job goes against conscience, what can the engineer do about it?