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Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy replacement

Triton

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52 United States Air Force C-5 Galaxy aircraft are being modernized by the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program (RERP) into the Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy. This modernization program is expected to be completed in 2016 and will extend the service life of these 52 C-5 aircraft to 2040.

What will be the United States Air Force's solution to transporting oversize and outsize cargoes when the C-5 airframes are at the end of their service life? Another modernization program of the C-5 around 2040 to retain lift of oversize and outsize cargoes? A brand new replacement aircraft larger than the C-5, such as the notional Lockheed Martin Very Large Subsonic Transport (VLST)? A military version of the Airbus A380F or Boeing 747 to replace the C-5? Would the Air Force want STOL capability?

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The Advanced Civil/Military Aircraft (ACMA) program to create a joint civil/military cargo lifter in the late 1970s was a flop.

Certainly not as sexy as the stealth STOL "Speed Agile" program or fifth and sixth generation fighters as the F-22, F-35, or NGAD, but given the development time of the Airbus A400M.
 

Hobbes

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Practically, they should just buy a bunch of An-124s. Maybe do a joint venture where a US firm optimizes the aerodynamics and integrates US engines and/or avionics.
 

sferrin

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Hobbes said:
Practically, they should just buy a bunch of An-124s. Maybe do a joint venture where a US firm optimizes the aerodynamics and integrates US engines and/or avionics.

If they're going to buy an old design they'd be better off to just buy more C-5s.
 

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I dunno. That does sound practical at first. But do you think LockMart kept the production tooling this far along?
 

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I do not think that they will be able to extend C-5M's life beyond 2040. Aircraft is not a bridge or water dam, it cant serve hundreds of years. I also doubt that B747 will be still in production in that time. Its almost dead now (as is A340). So that leaves only a few possibilities:

1. Modified A380 - unlikely because it has wing in low position, has damage tolerance of a civil plane and is not able to land in lower quality runways
2. Domesticated An-124 - unlikely (not designed in USA)
3. New design - probable, but expensive
4. New production run of C-5M upgraded with latest avionics and engines - most probable, it wont be the first example of reopening of production line
 

Triton

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Hobbes said:
Practically, they should just buy a bunch of An-124s. Maybe do a joint venture where a US firm optimizes the aerodynamics and integrates US engines and/or avionics.

Reminds me of the US Aerospace/Antonov proposal for KC-X.

This graphic of the Lockheed Martin Very Large Subsonic Transport (VLST) makes me wonder if there is any civilian air freight demand for shipping 40-ft ISO Intermodal Cargo Containers or interest from courier services such as United Parcel Service, Federal Express, DHL, etc.

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Matej said:
I also doubt that B747 will be still in production in that time. Its almost dead now (as is A340). So that leaves only a few possibilities:

I wonder if military lift is a consideration for the Boeing Y3 project to replace the 777-300 and 747 product lines.
 

SpudmanWP

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All the C-5 tooling was destroyed as part of the C-17 process.
 

Triton

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SpudmanWP said:
All the C-5 tooling was destroyed as part of the C-17 process.

The tooling couldn't be recreated when the production line was created? I presume that it would be cheaper to recreate the tooling than to create an entirely new aircraft.
 

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Looking at this design, with its superficial resemblance to the Galaxy at best,
I'm not sure, that a lot of tooling actually could be used.
 

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Jemiba said:
Looking at this design, with its superficial resemblance to the Galaxy at best,
I'm not sure, that a lot of tooling actually could be used.

Jens, I think he was talking about restarting a C-5 line, which was suggested a few posts above... ;)
 

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Right, was fooled by the profile of the nose, which really looks like the C-5, sorry .. :-\
 

Hobbes

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sferrin said:
SpudmanWP said:
All te C-5 tooling was destroyed as part of the C-17 process.

Figures. :eek:

It's possible the tooling was destroyed to make room for C-17 production. We're not talking about a few spanners here; it's more like a few hectares worth of fuselage and wing jigs. Destroying (recycling) this tooling at the end of production is SOP, because it's expensive to keep around.
 

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It was destroyed to FORCE and GUARANTEE that the C-17 goes forward.
 

F-14D

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It takes a lot of money to store and maintain tooling. Once you are sure you're never going to product anymore of a given aircraft and you have sufficient of the large parts to support the fleet, it doesn't make economic sense to retain the tooling.

The tooling was Not destroyed just to force the C-17 to be a success. It wasn't a space issue, C-17 is the last large a/c that will be built in California. The reason is that with so few left to build it is uneconomical to move that line to a more business-friendly State. If Boeing thought they'd be selling another 100, they'd probably move the line. C-5s were built in Georgia. In fact, the C-17 was delayed by almost ten years in order to restart production of the C-5, a decision that was controversial at the time and is somewhat questionable even today, but that's a moot point.

The C-5 has performed yeoman service, but it's availability has always been poor (part of that due to a decision that goes all the way back to McNamara). In fact, a previous SECDEF wasn't that thrilled about the C-5M program because he pointed out that the increase in C-5 availability that would result would gain the equivalent of 10 additional C-5s. Dividing the cost of the C-5M program by 10 yields an enormous cost per a/c equivalent.

The technology embodied in the C-5 airframe is old; restarting production of it would not be a wise move.
 

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F-14D, do you believe that a new military transport aircraft will be designed and built that is larger than the C-17 Globemaster III after the existing C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft are retired?
 

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If you hang around NAS Coronado (NASNI) in San Diego, you are likely to see one of countless Volga-Dnepr An-124 charter flights, loading ICBMs to and from strategic military bases across the U.S. One base facilities manager explained to me that C-5s are "less reliable and more expensive" to operate than the An-124, so they quit calling the USAF years ago.

To me, this makes as much sense as having American astronauts fly to the ISS in Soyuz capsules. Oh, wait -- never mind.

Will the C-5M replacement be from Antonov, Airbus, or perhaps even made-in-China?
 

Hobbes

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for market niches like this, it doesn't make sense to develop your own if a suitable aircraft is already on the market. You end up throwing huge amounts of money at a small number of airframes.
For things like bombers this spending is justified in order to keep secrets out of the hands of the enemy, but for a big transport there's no such constraint. The few secrets you need, are in equipment that can be added after delivery.
 

F-14D

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Triton said:
F-14D, do you believe that a new military transport aircraft will be designed and built that is larger than the C-17 Globemaster III after the existing C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft are retired?

My crystal ball doesn't go out 30 years (heck with what's about to happen to the budget, it'd be lucky to go out three). But if there is I'd wager that in this size class it would be a derivative of some civil project. The military will not be a from-scratch driver this time for this class of aircraft. 95 % of everything goes by sea, anyway
 

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Wait until Scaled Composites's Roc takes flight, as I'm sure it will, and you can bet the USAF will ask for their own version...
 

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Stargazer2006 said:
Wait until Scaled Composites's Roc takes flight, as I'm sure it will, and you can bet the USAF will ask for their own version...

Then they'll find out how much it would cost to ruggedize it and put it into production and stroke out.
 

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sferrin said:
Stargazer2006 said:
Wait until Scaled Composites's Roc takes flight, as I'm sure it will, and you can bet the USAF will ask for their own version...

Then they'll find out how much it would cost to ruggedize it and put it into production and stroke out.

Based on what happend with the C-27J, after they find out how much it would cost, they'll figure out a way to pay double for it.
 

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Triton said:
Can carbon composites be used in heavy-lift cargo aircraft reducing weight and fuel consumption?

Yes, but there are a number of problems with so doing. In no particular order, they are -

1 Composites must be protected from impact damage
2 Cost
3 Aviation (in particular cargo / self-loading cargo) is a traditionally conservative business and 'aeroplanes are made from metal'
4 'In-field' repair difficulty

There's probably a few more but you get the picture...
 

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From a strictly practical viewpoint, a cargo transport is constantly being loaded and unloaded, and therefore has to endure more strain and shocks than a passenger airliner. In this respect, I guess you can't go all-composite with them... use composites for the wings and tail, but stick to metal for the fuselage.
 

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Triton said:
I have read that high fuel costs in the 1970s killed the civilian Lockheed L-500 cargo and passenger versions.

It was more that a plane designed for military style operations was horribly uneconomic for civilian use. For example, analysis in the early '80s found that compared to a C-5 a contemporary 747 freighter lifted more, carried it farther and faster, burned less fuel and had much greater availability even though a C-5 flew far less than a civilian 747. The C-5 brought the ability to handle outsized cargo (but so would the C-17) and roll-on roll-off capability whereas the 747F would require equipment at the airport to load/unload. But then that handling equipment was already available worldwide, even USAF had and used it. So, for civilian use a C-5 just made no economic sense. Lockheed actually went to the time and expense to get civil certification for the C-141 only to find virtually zero interest. In the mid 2000s Boeing tried to drum up interest for a "BC-17" civil version but found that the costs would be so enormous and the market so small it just made no sense.
 

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With the X-48C flight test program completed and Boeing now gearing up plans for a full-sized prototype aircraft based on the X-48, we should not rule out the possibility that Boeing may consider submitting an X-48 based replacement for the C-5M as part of the Global Range Aircraft competition, in part because the BWB's increasing carrying capacity means that it can carry as much battlefield equipment or even more cargo than the C-5M.
 

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Vahe Demirjian said:
With the X-48C flight test program completed and Boeing now gearing up plans for a full-sized prototype aircraft based on the X-48,

Huh? Not so. Only another larger demonstrator.
 

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