The Air Force would like to reduce its fleet of C-5A transports from 59 to 27 as part of the broader strategy to maintain a fleet of “about 300 strategic airlift aircraft,” Gen. Duncan McNabb, head of US Transportation Command, said on Capitol Hill Thursday. “They want to go down to 27 C-5As. And it ends up being about 32 C-5As that they’d like to retire,” McNabb told the Senate Armed Services Committee in response to questioning by Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on C-5 modernization efforts and the future strategic airlift mix. McNabb said that mix would consist of 222 C-17s, 52 C-5Ms, and the 27 C-5As. “C-5A retirements will improve aircraft availability by removing maintenance intensive jets from the fleet and will allow us to focus our maintenance personnel and resources on the right-sized fleet,” wrote McNabb in his prepared statement to the committee. The Air Force is already moving forward with phasing out 22 C-5As—10 less than what McNabb mentioned—under a plan announced last year.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.