The Air Force will declare initial operational capability with the C-5M Super Galaxy on Friday, according to senior service officials. The declaration means there are sufficient aircraft, training of flight and ground crews, as well as spares on hand both domestically and at forward operating areas to allow the C-5M to go to war if needed. The stage was set for IOC last month, when the 16th C-5M was delivered to Dover AFB, Del. By the end of 2016, Air Mobility Command expects to have all 52 C-5Ms in service at three operating locations. The upgrade of all C-5Bs, two C-5Cs, and one C-5A includes replacement of the aircraft’s engines and more than 70 other structural and capability improvements. It builds on the Avionics Modernization Program, which was completed last year. The Air Force has been using the initial C-5Ms for the past two years, and the giant airlifter has turned in an on-time departure reliability between 88 percent and 93 percent, service officials said. Unmodified C-5s struggle to make 50 percent on-time departure rates. AMC boss Gen. Paul Selva has said the Air Force doesn’t need to modify the remaining C-5As, as the C-5M fleet as now projected will satisfy the service’s needs.
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.