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Just How Big is America’s C-5M Super Galaxy

The C-5M Super Galaxy is a strategic transport aircraft and is the largest aircraft in the Air Force inventory. Its primary mission is to transport cargo and personnel for the Department of Defense.

The Super Galaxy is America’s premier global direct delivery weαpσn system and the only strategic airlifter capable of linking the homeland directly to the warfighter in all theaters of combat without refueling.

The C-5M’s demonstrated improvements in performance and efficiency validate the value to the taxpayer of modernizing proven and viable aircraft. The C-5M can carry twice the cargo of other strategic airlift systems and is the only strategic airlifter capable of carrying 100 percent of certified air-transportable cargo. The C-5M is a modernized version of the legacy C-5 designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed C-5 Galaxy

The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is a large military transport aircraft designed and built by Lockheed, and now maintained and upgraded by its successor, Lockheed Martin. It provides the United States Air Force (USAF) with a heavy intercontinental-range strategic airlift capability, one that can carry outsized and oversized loads, including all air-certifiable cargo. The Galaxy has many similarities to the smaller Lockheed C-141 Starlifter and the later Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. The C-5 is among the largest military aircraft in the world.

The C-5 Galaxy’s development was complicated, including significant cost overruns, and Lockheed suffered significant financial difficulties. Shortly after entering service, cracks in the wings of many aircraft were discovered and the C-5 fleet was restricted in capability until corrective work was completed. The C-5M Super Galaxy is an upgraded version with new engines and modernized avionics designed to extend its service life to 2040 and beyond.

The USAF has operated the C-5 since 1969. In that time, the airlifter supported US military operations in all major conflicts including Vietnam, Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan, as well as allied support, such as Israel during the Yom Kippur wαr and operations in the Gulf wαr. The Galaxy has also distributed humanitarian aid, provided disaster relief, and supported the US space program.