Three years after the U.S. Air Force received the first of 111 C-5M aircraft, one of them was turned loose to see what it can do to existing aviation records. Two months ago, a special test flight was made, for the purpose of breaking records. Now, 41 records have been certified as having been set by that C-5M. Most of these involved speed (for aircraft of its class), altitude, payload and climbing speed. One of the former record holders is the Russian Tu-160 heavy bomber. Seven of the broken records belonged to the U.S. C-17 transport.
The M version is an upgrade of existing C-5 transports. The refurb replaces any worn structural components, replaces existing engines with more powerful and fuel efficient ones, and installs new electronics. This includes digital controls, a much nicer looking cockpit, all-weather capability and better communications. The C-5M is easier to handle than the older models, and costs a third less to fly as well. The upgrade costs about $120 million per aircraft, and keep the C-5s flying until 2040. While the M model can carry more weight over longer distances, that was not the main goal of the upgrade. The primary objective was to create an aircraft that was cheaper to fly and operate, and was more reliable and easier to maintain.