First-time fix: C-5C LAIRCM mod benefits warfighters, NASA

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
For the first time at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, a C-5C model is currently undergoing modifications to outfit a Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system. 

LAIRCM is a defensive system for large transport as well as rotary-wing aircraft that combines a missile warning system and infrared laser jammer countermeasure system to protect the aircraft from an enemy's infrared-guided threat missiles.

"The transition of C-5 LAIRCM installation from the contractor to our organic workforce has been a huge accomplishment," said Col. Raegan Echols, C-5 System Program manager at Robins. "This installation is particularly challenging since it is the first C-model to receive the mod and it is on a highly-compressed schedule. But our 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group partners are performing beyond our expectations to deliver the capability on time to Air Mobility Command."

Created to carry oversize cargo, this C-5 version, of which there are only two in the fleet, is a high demand aircraft. As the Air Force's largest airlifter, the C-5C can not only carry more cargo further than any other aircraft, but it's so large that it also supports various missions from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Once it leaves Robins it will once again immediately perform a critical mission for NASA.

Most notably, this massive cargo aircraft on the flight line has transported various specialized equipment as part of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope program. Its large infrared telescope will be used as a premier observatory and will be launched in October 2018, according to NASA.

NASA is one of the C-5C's largest customers and has utilized it to carry satellites, components of the Space Station and the Hubble telescope, according to John Dorminey, Robins C-5 Engineering Branch chief. 

The conversion of the aircraft required modification to remove its troop compartment aft of the center wing and above the cargo area, allowing larger cargo space for carrying NASA equipment.

While it carries oversized special mission cargo for NASA, it also deploys to combat zones, requiring it to have the latest state-of-the-art electronic warfare systems for aircraft protection.    

"The C-model is the most difficult due to the special configuration of the aircraft," said Dorminey. "The 559th AMXS has worked closely with the C-5 System Program Office to detail all requirements needed to ensure this aircraft meets its expected output date. This teamwork has paid off with the modification going very well and maintaining schedule."  

"The LAIRCM modification of the C-5C is a great example of what this complex brings to the fight for the Air Force while providing value to the taxpayer," he added. 

The plane is not here for programmed depot maintenance; however, in addition to the LAIRCM installation, additional repairs were needed once it arrived. Those are occurring on the aircraft's aft cargo door system and ramp.

The estimated work package on LAIRCM alone is a little over 5,000 hours and it is tentatively scheduled to be on station for 75 days.

"We've spent a lot of time getting this plane ready for its arrival, and it's finally come together," said Clay Kernell, 559th AMXS industrial engineering technician. "For C-5s, it proves that we do a good job, and that whatever comes our way we get done."