The C-5M Super Galaxy. It is the result of a program to give “FRED” a two-phase modernization effort, broken down into the Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) and the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program (RERP). What’s the result? Greatly improved reliability, maintainability and much higher mission-capable rate.

The C-5M has a modern flight-deck with flat-panel displays, a digital flight control system and autopilot, enhanced navigational capability, and brand-new communications equipment. The jet now features an integrated datalink system which, combined with the other enhancements, greatly eases crew resource management and dramatically increases situational awareness.

FRED now has more powerful GE F138-GE-100 engines, each cranking more than 50,000 pounds of thrust – a 22-percent increase over the previous powerplant design. The C-5M also has a 58-percent greater climb rate to an initial cruise altitude that is 38-percent higher than the original C-5A model.

That brings us to the wee hours of 3 April 2015, when an eight-person crew from Travis Air Force Base, California, put the aircraft’s capabilities to the test.

The crew of “FRED22” was comprised of members of the active-duty 60th Air Mobility Wing’s 22nd Airlift Squadron and the reserve 349th AMW’s 312th AS, accomplished their goal of establishing standards in 45 previously unset categories. The C-5M claimed records in the Class C-1.T jet category for altitude in horizontal flight, altitude with payload, time-to-climb, time-to-climb with payload and greatest payload to 9,000 meters.

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Maj. Jon Flowers, pilot, and Lt. Col. Matt Jones, mission commander, from the 22nd Airlift Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California, work together April 3 on the flight deck of the C-5M Super Galaxy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amber Carter)
Maj. Jon Flowers, pilot, and Lt. Col. Matt Jones, mission commander, from the 22nd Airlift Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California, work together April 3 on the flight deck of the C-5M Super Galaxy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Amber Carter)

“The successful completion of this mission exemplifies both the great teamwork required by the whole team to keep Travis’ aircraft flying and the fabulous strategic mobility capabilities the C-5M brings our combatant commanders around the world,” said Col. Joel Jackson, 60th AMW commander.

The C-5M took to the sky with a gross takeoff weight of 731,220 pounds, including the weight of the plane and the payload

“We took on approximately 265,000 pounds of cargo and our goal was to climb as fast as we could at 3,000, 6,000 and 9,000 meters,” Major Jon Flowers, 22nd Airlift Squadron chief of standardization and evaluation and pilot for the flight, explained following the historic sortie. “We got up to an altitude of approximately 37,000 feet before we ran out of performance.”

Cargo in a C-5M Super Galaxy from the 22nd Airlift Squadron at Travis AFB, California, April 3, 2015. The flight, which lasted approximately one hour, claimed 45 aeronautical records, positioning the U.S. military's largest airframe as the world's top aviation record holder with a total of 86 world records. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ken Wright)
Cargo in a C-5M Super Galaxy from the 22nd Airlift Squadron at Travis AFB, California, April 3, 2015. The flight, which lasted approximately one hour, claimed 45 aeronautical records, positioning the U.S. military’s largest airframe as the world’s top aviation record holder with a total of 86 world records. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ken Wright)

Among the records achieved were altitude in horizontal flight at 37,000 feet, altitude with payload of 265,000 pounds and time it takes to climb at 27.5 minutes.

The Super Galaxy has now unofficially claimed a total of 86 world aeronautical records. All records will be certified by the National Aeronautic Association, the nation’s oldest aviation organization. The formal certification of the C-5M’s new world records are expected to take several weeks.

(Featured photo courtesy of United States Air Force)