Robins receives first C-5M Super Galaxy Published Dec. 19, 2008 By Wayne Crenshaw 78 ABW/PA ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The C-5 Super Galaxy is a big part of the workload at Robins, and a newly modernized C-5 that arrived here Dec. 9 is a good sign that it will remain a significant assignment for years to come. The plane is a former C-5A, but is now designated a C-5M, with the "M" standing for modernized. It's the first of three C-5s to be delivered to the Air Force with new avionics and upgraded engines that allow it to climb faster, higher and with more payload, said Col. Jim Dendes, commander of the 730th Aircraft Sustainment Group. His group has worldwide responsibility for the 111 C-5s in the Air Force inventory. "It's significant to Robins because it means the Air Force and the DOD are investing in the future of the C-5 by investing in the re-engining modification," Colonel Dendes said. "That means the C-5 will be in the Air Force inventory for many years to come." Col. John Bukowinski, 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group commander, said the C-5M is scheduled to be at Robins for 271 days for programmed maintenance, with a projected output date of Sept. 6. "It comes with an increased amount of hours," he said of the workload for the new plane. The C-5, a mammoth cargo plane, comes in two models: the C-5A and the C-5B. Air Force plans currently call for all 52 C-5As to be modernized, estimated to cost $9 billion. Both the C-5As and the C-5Bs are also slated for an avionics upgrade, and a total of 46 have already gotten the new avionics, according to a Lockheed Martin release. "The C-5 fleet is now beginning to realize its full operational potential as we begin fielding both Avionics Program and Reliability Enhancement and re-engining program-enhanced C-5s for the Air Force," said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin's vice president of the C-5 program. "The combined U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin team can take great pride in its success, which is keeping this national strategic airlift asset viable for decades to come." The C-5M at Robins is the only plane of the former C-5As to get the new engines, said Colonel Dendes. Congress wanted at least one C-5A to get the new engines as a test for the potential of modernizing the entire fleet. The plane got four new General Electric engines that give 10,000 pounds of additional thrust per engine. It is at Robins for programmed depot maintenance before it is put into action for operational testing. It has already undergone three years of developmental testing, Colonel Dendes said, which is why it is now in need of programmed maintenance before it can be put into action. Lockheed Martin contends that the operational cost savings of the modernization will pay for the cost of the program. Once the plane is put back in the skies for operational use, the Air Force will assess how the upgrades are working and then determine whether to go forward with the full modernization program for C-5Bs. Colonel Dendes said he is confident the program will go forward. "So far it has been very successful in terms of the developmental testing," Colonel Dendes said. "It certainly does climb faster, fly higher cruise altitudes and has greater range with greater fuel efficiency. I don't know why it wouldn't go forward."