Sen. Carper Applauds Air Force Plan to Modernize C-5 Airplanes

DAFB to Benefit from Continued Modernization of C-5B's at Delaware Base

WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) applauded today’s news that the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, John Young, has signed off on the modernization of all 47 C-5B aircraft by the year 2014. 

While Undersecretary Young did not approve the full modernization program for the C-5A’s, the cockpits of all C-5A’s will be modernized through the Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) and their mission capable rates will be raised through methodologies such as Performance-Based Logistics and Lean Six Sigma. Despite earlier indications from the Air Force that half the C-5A fleet would be retired, the improved C-5A’s will be used by the nation’s Air Guard and Reserves.

For years, Sen. Carper has urged the modernization of the C-5 fleet if it could be done cost effectively, arguing that modernizing a C-5 could cost less than half as much as buying a new C-17. He has also pointed out that in times of war and peace, a C-5 can carry roughly twice as much cargo as a C-17. These facts make, he asserts, the modernization program – agreed to by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Air Force and Lockheed Martin – a highly cost-effective way to meet U.S. airlift needs.

To draw more attention to our nation’s need for cost-effective airlift in the 21st century, Sen. Carper chaired an oversight hearing on Sept. 27, 2007, that investigated the C-5 and C-17 programs in his Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security.

Among those who testified was Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for the C-5 modernization program, which offered to modernize C-5B’s with a mission-capable rate that meets or exceeds 75 percent.

Undersecretary Young’s approval of the C-5B modernization program comes amid earlier concerns by the U.S. Air Force that the program might not be cost effective. Last October, the Air Force announced that Lockheed’s modernization costs for the C-5B’s were too high and that the company had breached the “Nunn-McCurdy” law, which occurs when the cost to develop a weapons program rises substantially above its initial cost estimate. When this breach occurs, the defense department notifies Congress, and the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics must demonstrate that the program is both cost effective and essential to national security.

Today’s announcement to proceed with modernizing C-5B’s is the end result of this Nunn-McCurdy investigation. Sen. Carper offered the following response:

“I commend Undersecretary of Defense Young for his decision to move forward with the reliability enhancement and re-engining program for U.S. Air Force’s C-5B’s. It assures us that C-5 modernization will be a cost-effective way to fulfill part of our nation’s airlift needs.

“This is a fiscally responsible decision at a time of huge budget deficits and when our armed forces depend on strategic airlift to deliver cargo and troops needed to defend our country and its interests. This decision is good for the Air Force, the Department of Defense, our country and for taxpayers.

“By modernizing the C-5, the Air Force can buy twice as much hauling capacity for less than half the cost of a new C-17.

“In my home state of Delaware, the Dover Air Force Base benefits from this announcement because the 18 C-5B’s assigned to our base will all be fully modernized by the year 2014.

“This news comes on the heels of the opening of Dover’s state-of-the-art cargo-handling facility and the ground breaking of the base’s new air traffic control tower.

“Together, these developments will expedite the flow of personnel and cargo by air to Iraq and Afghanistan and other parts of the world. They also solidify Dover Air Force Base as one of the most important strategic airlift installations in the world.”