Lockheed Martin expects to complete the Avionics Modernization Program upgrades to the C-5B fleet around November and move directly into adding the same digital cockpits to the C-5A fleet, a senior company official said Thursday. At an anticipated rate of modifying 14 aircraft per year, AMP work on USAF’s 59 C-5As—and thus all of its 111 Galaxies—should conclude in 2012, Jim Grant, Lockheed Martin VP for air mobility and special operations programs, told reporters at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando. The AMP upgrades may well be the last major improvements to the C-5As, the oldest of the Galaxy airlifters, since Pentagon acquisition chief John Young on Feb. 14 removed them from consideration for the more expansive Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program upgrades that the remaining 47 C-5Bs and two C-5Cs in the fleet will still receive. The AMP’ed C-5As will be able to operate in more-efficient Global Air Traffic Management airspace, further increasing their efficiency, Grant said. Nonetheless, he said, there will remain “quite a bit” of a capability difference between the upgraded C-5As and those fully modernized C-5s that will have both the AMP and RERP features. The Air Force already has three C-5s, designated C-5M Super Galaxies, in this configuration and undergoing testing. Grant said the new engines added under RERP are more powerful and more fuel efficient than the aircraft’s existing powerplants. Lockheed expects to enter into contract discussions for the RERP later this year. Work on these modifications will ramp up slowly before eventually reaching a peak conversion rate of 11 aircraft per year, with the RERP wrapping up notionally around 2016, Grant said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.