According to the just-released Directorate of Operational Test & Evaluation annual report, the restructured C-5 Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program requires “further assessment” before the Pentagon can formally determine just how much the C-5M (a combination of the RERP and the Avionics Modernization Program) makeover will increase capability for the behemoth airlifter. Flight testing done last summer showed a 20 percent increase in fuel efficiency and greater reliability. The Air Force decided last year to convert only B and C model C-5s to C-5M Super Galaxy status, leaving the oldest C-5s, the A Models, to receive only the AMP upgrade. The service planned to put the first three production RERP aircraft in the field (see above) for crew familiarization and, sometime this summer, to provide three systems development and demonstration aircraft reconfigured for IOT&E testing, which it must complete to support a full-rate production decision. According to the DOT&E annual report, the C-5 enterprise needs to address “remaining deficiencies” identified during the avionics modernization program testing by ensuring technical orders are validated and verified before RERP begins its IOT&E phase.
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.