Military Aviation


Without the full C-5M fleet in action, the wear and tear on the remaining planes are flying more than planned, their reliability rates are too low and USAF personnel are overworked flying and maintaining them

As reported by Roll Call, since 2015 the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has grounded eight of its newly refurbished, multibillion-dollar C-5M Super Galaxy cargo planes, in order to avoid spending the relatively small amount of money ($60 million in annual operating costs) it costs to fly them.

These aircraft, which are placed in “backup aircraft inventory” status, are badly needed to ferry troops and gear around the world, said Gen. Carlton Everhart, Air Mobility Command (AMC) Commander, who hopes the funding will be restored soon to bring them back into the active fleet.

Actually, if to these aircraft we add the four C-5Ms which are kept in reserve for emergencies under standard procedures, nearly a quarter of the Super Galaxy aircraft are out of service.

Without the full fleet in action, the wear and tear on the remaining planes are flying more than planned, their reliability rates are too low and USAF personnel are overworked flying and maintaining them, Everhart said.

“I need them back,” Everhart said of the eight C-5s in caretaker status.

According to some analysts the service could shift money from less important programs to cover the cost of operating the C-5Ms.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. C-5M Super Galaxy 60th Air Mobility Wing, 349th Air Mobility Wing, 22nd Airlift Squadron, 07-0042 – Travis AFB, CA.

“The Air Force has the economics upside down here,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, in a statement. “If they can truly get by on 75 percent of the fleet, why did the taxpayer spend billions of dollars on excess capacity? We’re all for cutting costs, but do it in smart way, starting with reducing the F-35 buy, or better yet, buy more F-16s instead to bridge the technological gap to more capable UAVs [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles]. Or close some of that excess base capacity.”

Mark Thompson, who is an analyst with the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight’s Center for Defense Information, explained that the Pentagon often turns to its operations accounts to save money. But the operations budget “lacks the constituency that upgrading the C-5 has — both inside the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. So, given that choice, it’s not surprising that the Air Force would improve the airplanes only to let them sit on the tarmac. It is penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

As we have already told, the C-5 has a greater capacity than any other airlifter. It has the ability to carry 36 standard pallets and 81 troops simultaneously. The Galaxy is also capable of carrying any of the Army‘s air-transportable combat equipment, including such bulky items as the 74-ton mobile scissors bridge. Ground crews are able to load and off-load the C-5 simultaneously at the front and rear cargo openings, reducing cargo transfer times.

Additional source: U.S. Air Force; Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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