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Mobility Leadership Emphasizes Need for More Airlift

Mobility Leadership Emphasizes Need for More Airlift

By Cynthia Bauer, Air Mobility Command Public Affairs.

Scott Air Force Base, Illinois -- (AFPN) March 18, 2002 -- Air Mobility Command planners said the Air Force’s strategic airlifters are doing a tremendous job in supporting the global war on terrorism, but more aircraft are still needed to meet long-term U.S. defense needs.

To meet those needs, officials said the Air Force must increase its inventory of C-17 Globemaster IIIs and modernize the C-5 Galaxy.

Airlift capability falls short of the minimum Defense Department requirements set in a comprehensive two-year study of the defense transportation system, called Mobility Requirements Study-2005, said Maj. Gen. Arthur J. Lichte, AMC’s director of plans and programs.

The study, which began in 1998, focused on what the DOD needs based on the 2005 military force structure. The report considered major theater war, special operations, and non-warfighting requirements among other criteria.

The study concluded the minimum strategic airlift requirement was 54.5 million ton miles per day by active, reserve component and commercial airliners in the Civil Reserve Airlift Fleet.

Today’s capability lies between 45 and 46 million ton miles per day, officials said.

The "MTM/D" is a transportation industry measure of capacity to push cargo in tons, through a distance in miles in a period of time with a given fleet of vehicles. One million ton miles per day would be the equivalent of loading 14 Greyhound buses aboard C-5s and flying them from Washington to Germany in one day.

Lichte said the new mobility demands for homeland defense and the global war on terrorism, when combined with the requirements from the study, could very well cause an increase above the 54.5 benchmark; however, that amount is yet to be determined.

"Since 9-11," he said, "we have been tasked very heavily, and we are doing a lot more than we’ve ever done before in the airlift business."

The challenge for planners is to determine how to match AMC’s capabilities with defense airlift requirements.

"We’re looking to fill the gap with more C-17s and modernized C-5s," said Col. Michael Fricano, chief of the studies and analysis division of AMC’s plans and programs directorate.

"This year Congress approved procurement of 60 more C-17s, which brings the total number of C-17s to 180, the minimum number just to meet the initial requirements of MRS-05," he said. "But, as we continue to learn the lessons of operations like Allied Force and Enduring Freedom, we see a need for at least 222."

Both the C-5 and the C-17 are necessary to meet airlift requirements, Fricano said.

"We need a mix of both airframes," he said. "The (C-5) can move more cargo over longer distances than the C-17. The C-5 opens at both ends, and can ‘kneel’ for greater ease and speed in getting cargo and vehicles off the aircraft. The C-17 is a versatile heavy lifter that can provide direct delivery of people and cargo because it can land on short and unimproved runways.

"We have to look at C-5 enhancements and buy more C-17s to improve our overall capability," he said.

While C-17 reliability remains at or near the Air Force wartime standards, Fricano said C-5 reliability has fallen well short of requirements, which is why C-5 modernization is necessary. Programs planned for the C-5 include avionics modernization and re-engining.

"The numbers and models of C-5s to undergo modernization will depend on the success of the testing program," Fricano said. "It will be fiscal year 2005 or 2006 before results are known, with modernization of the fleet beginning in 2007 and beyond. The success of the C-5 modernization programs will ultimately determine the number of additional C-17s we’ll need to meet requirements."

(Courtesy of AMC News Service)

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).