This C-5 Galaxy Aircraft Does Something Very Unique
This impressive video highlights some of the unique features of the C-5 Galaxy. No simple cargo hauler, the Galaxy is America’s largest transport and the second largest aircraft in military service worldwide (beaten only by the Russian Antonov An-124). With up to 135 tons of airlift capacity, the C-15 could theoretically load an entire C-17—the next largest US transport—inside and still carry enough fuel to fly from the US to Europe.
The Galaxy’s cavernous roll-on/roll-off interior can be accessed from both ends of the aircraft. With built-in extendable ramps, this giant workhorse lets cargo drive straight in or out with only a few minutes of prep time. The “kneeling” feature shown here lowers all five landing gear to standard truck-bed height, allowing the loadmaster to handle cargo immediately and without any special ground support facilities. In practical use, the C-5 can accommodate even the most oversized loads. This breathtaking ability includes payloads of: 2 Abrams 68-ton main battle tanks, 6 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, 6 Apache helicopters, 10 Stryker’s or LAV-25’s, 16 HMMWVs, or 36 master pallets of supplies.
While not generally outfitted for troop transport, C-5’s do have a bonus passenger compartment above the cargo bay with seats for 75. In the early 1970’s, a C-5 derivative known as the L500 would have been able to carry 1,000 troops, or the equivalent of 10 C-130’s, but never entered full production. (more…)
The C-5 Galaxy was first introduced back in 1969, shortly after the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, where the Air Force deployed these behemoths extensively to forward logistics bases a
An Impressive History
The C-5 Galaxy was first introduced back in 1969, shortly after the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, where the Air Force deployed these behemoths extensively to forward logistics bases around the warzone. Yet, despite this transport’s advanced age, the military has no comparable replacement in the works. Especially not one able to haul the Army’s heaviest vehicles over 4,000 miles without refueling.
There have also been several variants of the C-5, including an exotic Special Forces version and several custom aircraft for NASA. Perhaps the most unique though was a proposed intercontinental bomber derivative. In 1974, the US successfully conducted an Air Mobile Feasibility Test where a C-5A air-dropped an entire 43-ton Minuteman ICBM from 20,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean. The missile descended to 8,000 feet before igniting its engine and launching a simulated nuclear strike on the USSR. While the project was scrapped for budgetary and engineering reasons, this new nuclear capability was considered sufficiently developed to classify C-5’s as a potential “strategic weapons delivery system” during the START nuclear disarmament negotiations.
Issues and Incidents
Despite decades of continuous improvements and upgrades, the C-5 is still famous for its massive fuel consumption, significant maintenance time between long-haul flights and general reliability issues with the older C-5’s. Which has spurred many of the ground crews to nickname the C-5 as the “FRED.” Shorthand for Fantastic, Ridiculous Economic Disaster. While thankfully none have been lost in combat, several have suffered fatal crash landings over the years – usually caused by previously unknown mechanical vulnerabilities.
Still, the 131 Galaxies in the Air Force’s arsenal form the backbone of not just America’s, but NATO’s heavy lift capacity. If all were activated at once, the C-5 force could easily transport 35 million tons of equipment from the States to central Europe in one lift. Or put another way, an entire heavy mechanized brigade, including hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery pieces, helicopters and thousands of troops, in just a few hours.
The latest upgraded version, the C-5M Super Galaxy, cuts the takeoff and landing range by almost 30%, allowing this airborne freighter to operate from much shorter forward airfields. In addition, with its much more power engines, the C-5M can fly non-stop with a full cargo and without refueling from the United States directly into potential battlefields in East Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim. Video credit: Military Machine