Lockheed Martin is preparing to begin flight testing the Air Force’s fourth C-5M Super Galaxy transport, company spokesman Chad Gibson told the Daily Report Thursday. This aircraft is the first C-5 being converted to the new “M” configuration at the company’s production line in Marietta, Ga. The previous three C-5Ms received the new engines and reliability enhancements that are the main upgrades in the M model during the program’s developmental work, before the modification line was established. Lockheed expects to deliver this airframe to the Air Force on Sept. 30. Two additional C-5s are on the line now, with slated delivery dates in February and mid-2011, respectively, Gibson said. One of the three C-5Ms already in USAF’s inventory recently achieved a 96 percent departure reliability rate while delivering “critical cargo” to troops in Afghanistan, according to a Lockheed Martin release. (See also USAF Comes to Scientist’ Rescue and Super Galaxy.)
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.