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Posted: 12/26/2003 2:00:21 AM EDT
Russian aircraft getting U.S. C-5 work

Congressional officials surprised, upset that Air Force is outsourcing cargo
transport

WARNER ROBINS - The Air Force's C-5A strategic airlift fleet, already
battling for its existence against budget shortfalls and C-17 advocates, may
have another, especially unwelcome competitor -- the Russians.

The Telegraph has learned that Russian aircraft have been landing at bases
in the United States to assist the U.S. Air Force in moving materiel around
the world. Air Mobility Command, the agency responsible for strategic
airlift within the Defense Department, confirmed the Russian involvement
last week.

AMC said Russian AN-124 heavy transports were used during fiscal year 2003,
particularly to haul cargo when U.S. C-5s were not available.

Mark Voorhis, an AMC spokesman, said 79 missions were flown during the year
at a cost of $28.9 million. The Russian aircraft landed at a number of Air
Force and Army installations in the United States, although Voorhis said
Robins Air Force Base was not among them.

However, a senior Robins official who asked not to be identified, disputed
that, telling The Telegraph that Russian aircraft have landed on base during
the year.

An official base response was not available last week.

The news comes at a particularly unsettled time for the C-5 and the 1,000
people at Robins who manage and maintain the huge, Lockheed Martin system.
The Air Force is retiring 14 C-5As, the older version of the four-engine
aircraft, and evaluating whether to upgrade or retire the remaining 60.
Presumably, 50 newer C-5Bs will be retained and upgraded at a cost of about
$75 million per aircraft.

Members of Georgia’s congressional delegation, when informed by a reporter
last week of the Russian aircraft involvement, said hiring Russian heavy
transports while at the same time retiring C-5As will not be well received
on Capitol Hill.

”Members of Congress are going to say, ‘Wait a second. We need to do what to
get our Army around the world? Rely on the Russians?’“ predicted Bill
Johnson, chief of staff for Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga. “If this is not gap
filling, throwing a bone to a potential ally or a one-time occurrence, then
it won’t go down well.”

Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., said he planned to file and inquiry with the Air
Force.

”I’d like to know what missions were so critical that we had to bring in
Russian aircraft,” he said. “We absolutely need to maintain in-house
capabilities to do our critical airlift. We need in-house control.”

Clyde Taylor, military legislative assistant for U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss,
R-Ga., said he needed more information.

”But why would you continue to retire C-5s and then use Russian airlift?” he
asked.

AMC did not immediately provide answers to questions regarding the
destination of the AN-124s or the nature of the cargo. Officials also
delayed discussing any future plans for relying on Russian airlift. Voorhis
said he would assemble a team next week to provide additional information.

Supporters of the C-5 say AMC would like to retire the C-5A as soon as
possible and push Congress for more C-17s, the newer but smaller strategic
transport manufactured by Boeing. AMC commander Gen. John Handy appeared to
underscore that point during an August interview with Air Force Times, a
weekly publication based in the Washington, D.C., area.

”Let’s find a way to retire the As,” Handy was quoted as saying. “Let’s
robust the Bs … and buy sufficient numbers of the C-17.” Congress has
approved the purchase of 180 C-17s, although Handy has said at least 222 are
needed.

The C-5A’s future is currently undergoing scrutiny from an Air Force Fleet
Advisability Board, convened earlier in the year to look at all aging
aircraft. Its C-5A findings are expected in March. A mobility requirements
study scheduled for 2005 will look at the overall need for airlift,
including the necessary mix of C-17s and C-5s.

Experts agree that the nation must deal with its airlift shortfall –
underscored by the current war on terrorism. However, money is tight. Each
C-17 costs about $240 million and it must compete against a host of other
requirements, including the need for new fighter and tanker aircraft.

The C-17 is also not a direct replacement for the C-5. Its payload is 35
percent smaller, and its ability to haul the Army’s heavy tanks and fighting
vehicles is considerably less.

Robins data show the C-5A – built from 1966 to 1973 – has considerable life
left in it. According to Al Fatkin, deputy chief of the strategic airlift
directorate, the average C-5A has logged 17,000 flying hours.

”The limiting factor is about 70,000 flying hours,” Fatkin said in a
previous interview. “We don’t know of anything that would cause the aircraft
to not be available through the year 2040.”

Johnson agrees that the new C-17 is a great aircraft. “Everybody loves it,”
he said. “We want more. But one of the huge questions out there is what to
do with the C-5.”

He said depending on the Russians to haul cargo bigger than what the C-17
can carry is not an alternative.

”If the Air Force is building a strategic plan that requires us to do that,
then that’s not a plan,” Johnson said. “Nothing in our nation’s security is
more important than strategic airlift and we can’t subcontract that to a
foreign country.”

He also admitted to a general aversion to contracting with the Russians – at
least for the moment.

”The last time I checked, they weren’t helpful when we needed them,” he
said, referring to Russia’s lack of support for the war in Iraq.

”So, I don’t think we want to keep their aircraft industry alive,” he said.
“If this use of Russian aircraft is anything other than gap filling, there
will be strong, strong backlash in Congress.”


http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/news/7543545.htm

Link Posted: 12/26/2003 3:28:04 AM EDT
Not suprising.  C-5s break down a lot.  Especially when they are in Hawaii.  This is also a reflection of the Air Force's civilian attitude.  "If it absolutely, positively has to be there over night, call FEDEX.  We are on crew rest."
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 3:55:41 AM EDT
I don't have the latest figures, but C-5s generally had abyssmal mission departure reliability rates compared with the rest of the airlift fleet.  Throw in other factors such as the large number of maintenance hours required per flying hour, parts availability, and other logistical considerations and the C-5 looks less attractive.

The best thing that can be said about the C-5 is that it is a bigger box; you can put more in a single airplane.  However, a fully loaded C-5 is extremely limited in available airfields to operate from.

The dilemma is whether it is better to throw more money at them to try and increase their reliability, or put the funds into other airlift resources, such as the C-17.

As a side note, what a small world.  I worked with Mark Voorhis at Charleston AFB.
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 4:07:23 AM EDT
The US would do well to take a hard look at the AN-124 and think about producing something similar.  It seems we could learn a thing or two about Russian design philosophies regarding aircraft (KISS).  The reliability and cost effectiveness of the 124 has been one of the few real success stories in the post-Soviet free market.

The whole thing doesn’t surprise me at all.  A tremendous amount of mission critical stuff comes from non-US suppliers.  We don’t hardly produce any basic electronics in the country anymore.  Just think what happens if the Japanese get pissed at us?  We’d be up shit creek in weeks.

All we have to do is keep doing what we’re doing.  In a few years no nation will have to invade us to take over, all they’ll have to do is shut off the flow of goods and we won’t have anything to fight with.

One of the “benefits” of jumping headlong into a “world economy”. [:(]
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 5:53:10 AM EDT
I took some pics of the ones that flew in to Ft Bliss about a year ago.  One of them unloaded eight refurbished BMP-2s.  One of my co-workers got a tour of that aircraft and also looked inside the BMPs.  They had all their equipment, including radios, pioneer gear, etc.  One of the 124s was sitting on the flight line for about three weeks.  It wasn't broken, they were just waiting for a load of cargo.  I doubt many people even knew what it was, even though it had a CIS flag on the tail.

I'll see if I can find my pics of it in my files
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 6:15:56 AM EDT
Back in 2k when I left active duty as a 141 crew chief the c5 go rate was around 50%. For our paticular base our 141s were around 85%+. We were just setting up the c17s to take over but they had many of their own problems like their Macintosh system failing oversea limiting thier range and sea travel for quite some time. Gotta love TCTO's.
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 6:44:43 AM EDT
Just curious, is the problem with the design, the components, the manufacture, all of the above?  Are U.S. aircraft companies only hiring Jeff Spicoli type engineers?  "Hey, if we don't get some cool planes, pronto, we'll just be bogus."
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 6:51:14 AM EDT
Boeing uses An-124's to haul 777 engines around.
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 8:50:49 AM EDT
The post-cold War Ruskies pretty much have locks  heavy duty heavy lift aircraft design. Besides fixed wing, look at their heavy lift choppers, those folks have the world's biggest, the USA comes in at a distant 2nd.
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 10:02:12 AM EDT
AN-124s are pretty badass.

I remember they used to drop into Houston (George Bush) Intercontinental airport pretty frequently, although I haven't been there in a  while, so I don't know if they still do.

They look imposing as hell, sitting on the tarmac like a small building.
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 10:31:04 AM EDT
Originally Posted By 1911Shootist:
Just curious, is the problem with the design, the components, the manufacture, all of the above?  Are U.S. aircraft companies only hiring Jeff Spicoli type engineers?  "Hey, if we don't get some cool planes, pronto, we'll just be bogus."
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yes.

When you fly acft non-stop for 40+ years they get hard to maintain. I rarely ever saw a 141 on the ground for more than 8 hrs and it if was it started to get canned(cannibalized for other broke acft). To few acft, too few parts, too few tools, too few mechs... I heard it is getting better since bush.
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 10:34:06 AM EDT
Originally Posted By GunSlingAR:
AN-124s are pretty badass.

I remember they used to drop into Houston (George Bush) Intercontinental airport pretty frequently, although I haven't been there in a  while, so I don't know if they still do.

They look imposing as hell, sitting on the tarmac like a small building.
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Seeing as how we are buying up everything else in the world foreign-made like sailors on shore leave blowing their sea pay, why don't we just buy An-124s off the shelf? They seem to work better in terms of times between repairs than C-5s. And they are much, much cheaper.

I recall reading all sorts of books and articles about the flying pork barrel and its huge cost overruns and lack of serviceability from the time I was a kid in the 1960s, onward through the 1980s.
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 10:41:08 AM EDT
The AN-124 Condors have been flying into Moffet Federal Airfield/NASA Ames here in California for over a decade. I've seen them from the 101 sitting on the tarmac.

Before y'all start saying "Figures the commies would be flying into Calfornia", most of their flights involve transporting telecom satellites from Loral/Space Systems (Formerly Ford Aerospace: builders of civilian and military telecom satellites) and Lockheed-Martin (Formerly Lockheed Missile and Space: builders of the Hubble, KH series spy satellites, the Trident D-5 SLBM and the C-141 Starlifter in addtion to the C-5 Galaxy.)

The C-5 is a fine aircraft. They're too few (Less than 150?) and currently very busy.

Back in the 80's, there was a difficult choice between buying 50 Lockheed C-5B's (At the time there were less than 100 C-5A's--IIRC--in Air Force inventory) or 200 McDonnel Douglas C-17's(Which were still in production development). The C-5s were chosen because strategic airlift was needed more than theater tactical airlift.

Personally I think the military R&D money should go to combat aircraft.
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 11:00:49 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/26/2003 11:01:42 AM EDT by wetidlerjr]
Originally Posted By Airwolf:
The US would do well to take a hard look at the AN-124 and think about producing something similar.  It seems we could learn a thing or two about Russian design philosophies regarding aircraft (KISS).  The reliability and cost effectiveness of the 124 has been one of the few real success stories in the post-Soviet free market.

The whole thing doesn’t surprise me at all.  A tremendous amount of mission critical stuff comes from non-US suppliers.  We don’t hardly produce any basic electronics in the country anymore.  Just think what happens if the Japanese get pissed at us?  We’d be up shit creek in weeks.

All we have to do is keep doing what we’re doing.  In a few years no nation will have to invade us to take over, all they’ll have to do is shut off the flow of goods and we won’t have anything to fight with.

One of the “benefits” of jumping headlong into a “world economy”. [:(]
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You hit the nail right on the head! I couldn't have said it better. Free enterprise is fine but how fine is it when national security is at stake? Does anyone seriously think the Chinese are going to be our defense suppliers when it is against their interest? This "world economy" shit is just another word for simple greed.




[devil]
[i]Edited to add: Sorry about the hijack![/i]
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 12:07:22 PM EDT
I used to fly in C-5's with spacecraft cargo. Nice plane, real smooth ride, but trying to schedule one was a bitch. The guys in charge of that would tell me that they usually had to line up two or three at a time just to make sure one would be available.

CW
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 12:49:16 PM EDT
The US Military would never buy an off-the-shelf AN-124 as a dedicated combat cargo aircraft.
It would cost just as much if not more to bring it up to milspec than it would to design and build a new heavy lift aircraft.

To me this is a grandstand play by the (transport) Air Force and Georgia's "elected officials" to grab headlines in order to get Lockheed a slice of the military transport heavy lift market from Boeing.

The Air Force was unable to provide enough heavy airlift when the entire fleet of C-5's were in service, that is why they contracted out to the Russians.
The civil reserve air fleet can't haul outsized cargo or heavy equipment.

The US has played this game for years.
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 2:48:16 PM EDT
USN contracted one to fly the first 5 MH-60S aircraft to Guam to replace the H-46 in late 2001/early 2002.  All 5 arrived with cracked glass on their spiffy new multi-function displays.  The glass cockpits are the long pole in the tent on MH-60S delivery and severely impacted the H-46 retirement schedule.  No more going by AN-124s since then.
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 8:17:33 PM EDT
Working in Aircraft Maintenance for the past 5 years ( I know I'm still a youngin ), I have had the chance to work on and take a close look at modern aviation.  Frankly, aviation comes down into three categoies European, American, and Russian basically from my opinion here's how they break down.

European - Lots of Gee Whiz technology, if they could take the pilot out of the cockpit and get it certified they would.  Engines are made to be very easily worked on (only have to open one set of cowls to do most work on Rolls Royce Engines).

American - Middle of the road well built airframes for people transport, made for comfort.  Engines are reliable, but when they break they can be a pain to work on.

Russian - Perfected the Keep It Simple Stupid aircraft.  Not too much to go wrong with airframes, and they can take one hell of a beating.  Engines are junk lots of problems making power and keeping tolerances.  Antonov and Ilushyn are retrofitting aircraft to fit US and European engines.  Currently Russia is the largest buyers of old JT8D engines.
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 10:55:34 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/26/2003 11:03:15 PM EDT by TwoStage]
I was a Crew Chief (CRCH 60th OMS) on them, and had over a thousand hours flight time in them.(my birds 69-0022 & 69-0024)

At one time either the CRCH or his asst. was on every mission.

The Pacific milk run was the 351 mission, that is from Travis to Hawaii to Guam to PI to Okinawa to Japan and depending on cargo either Alaska or back to Travis this run was 32 hours and 4-5 days depending on what your cargo load time was and of course how good your plane was.

When 68-0218 went down on Baby Lift, I was between Okinawa and Yokota and was sitting with the Flt Eng at the panel. When over the HF came "Heavy Down"

You see 68-0218 had a 351 mission but had a #2 eng problem going into Hawaii, we caught up to it about 3 hours out of Hickam and followed him in. 22nd AF changed the missions around because there was no fuel control in the Hickam supply, so after a cargo swap we went on our way.

The Two crew members to die on ACFT 0128 were friends of mine[:(]

Just like any plane it comes down to parts.

Link Posted: 12/27/2003 10:37:00 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/27/2003 4:05:51 PM EDT by cnatra]
Originally Posted By GunSlingAR:
AN-124s are pretty badass.

I remember they used to drop into Houston (George Bush) Intercontinental airport pretty frequently, although I haven't been there in a  while, so I don't know if they still do.

They look imposing as hell, sitting on the tarmac like a small building.
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yes AN-124's still do, a lot of the oil field service companies charter these to fly heavy equipment around the globe

they usually fly under the call sign
ADB(AntonovDesignBureau) or HLA(HeavyLift)or CDR(Condor)

it did seem like the AN124 flights died off for a while in '02 but have been flying regularly again in '03

to my shock & amazement I've seen the AN-225 here at IAH twice in the last few months
[url]www.xp-office.de/an225.htm[/url]
(off Lee road & Will Clayton near the airport USPO)
 apparently NASA was authorized to help the Russians bring it out of mothballs & start flying it again
(to haul stuff for the space station?)

I didn't think they built more than one of the AN-225's ??
Link Posted: 12/27/2003 11:12:06 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/27/2003 11:13:41 AM EDT by 95thFoot]
For comparison's sake, a pic of an An124 with a B52H in the foreground

[img]http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/row/an-124-DFST9400584.jpg[/img]

and the AN225

[img]http://www.globalaircraft.org/photos/planephotos/an-225-1.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.globalaircraft.org/photos/planephotos/an-225-2.jpg[/img]

275' wingspan- woo-hoo!
Link Posted: 12/27/2003 11:49:13 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/27/2003 12:11:57 PM EDT
Originally Posted By talbalos:

Back in the 80's, there was a difficult choice between buying 50 Lockheed C-5B's (At the time there were less than 100 C-5A's--IIRC--in Air Force inventory) or 200 McDonnel Douglas C-17's(Which were still in production development). The C-5s were chosen because strategic airlift was needed more than theater tactical airlift.

Personally I think the military R&D money should go to combat aircraft.
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The way I heard it was the A models were such a PITA that the AF didn't want the B model.  However, who tells the AF how to spend their $$$ ?  That's right, Congress.

Think Senate Armed Services Committee.  Think SASC Chairman Sam Nunn.  Think Sam Nunn of Georgia, as in Lockheed Georgia.
Link Posted: 12/27/2003 12:25:23 PM EDT
Hehehe, and that's why Lockheed stopped making the C-130H and started making the C-130J.

The Air Force didn't want it.
The Navy didn't want it.
The Marines didn't want it.
The Coast Guard didn't want it.
The civilian market didn't want it.

But on the bright side, it's only taken 10 years for the active duty Air Force to establish an official training command for the C-130J and with any luck it might only take 10 years more for the Air Force to actually certify it for combat....


Originally Posted By Brohawk:
Originally Posted By talbalos:

Back in the 80's, there was a difficult choice between buying 50 Lockheed C-5B's (At the time there were less than 100 C-5A's--IIRC--in Air Force inventory) or 200 McDonnel Douglas C-17's(Which were still in production development). The C-5s were chosen because strategic airlift was needed more than theater tactical airlift.

Personally I think the military R&D money should go to combat aircraft.
View Quote


The way I heard it was the A models were such a PITA that the AF didn't want the B model.  However, who tells the AF how to spend their $$$ ?  That's right, Congress.

Think Senate Armed Services Committee.  Think SASC Chairman Sam Nunn.  Think Sam Nunn of Georgia, as in Lockheed Georgia.
View Quote
Link Posted: 12/29/2003 4:00:06 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 95thFoot:
For comparison's sake, a pic of an An124 with a B52H in the foreground

[url]http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/row/an-124-DFST9400584.jpg[/url]

and the AN225

[url]http://www.globalaircraft.org/photos/planephotos/an-225-1.jpg[/url]
[url]http://www.globalaircraft.org/photos/planephotos/an-225-2.jpg[/url]

275' wingspan- woo-hoo!
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where was this that we had B-52H's parked next to and AN-124, and a few TU-95's?  Pairs Airshow maybe???????
Link Posted: 12/29/2003 5:45:27 PM EDT
The AF can be real fickle when it comes to buying airplanes they really need but don't wan't because they wan't some other pet project fighter like the F-22 instead.

Remember the C-17 ? the AF Fighter Generals at the pentagon fought like shrill democrats against that procurement program now it's the greatest thing since sliced bread and they can't get enough of them...

The C130J ? Damn awesome , there performance over the H model is amazing. Saw them due some stuff out of baghdad airport that if an H or E tried they would be a smoldering pile ...

Link Posted: 12/30/2003 3:12:50 AM EDT
Originally Posted By DeltaAir423:
Originally Posted By 95thFoot:
For comparison's sake, a pic of an An124 with a B52H in the foreground

[url]http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/row/an-124-DFST9400584.jpg[/url]

and the AN225

[url]http://www.globalaircraft.org/photos/planephotos/an-225-1.jpg[/url]
[url]http://www.globalaircraft.org/photos/planephotos/an-225-2.jpg[/url]

275' wingspan- woo-hoo!
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where was this that we had B-52H's parked next to and AN-124, and a few TU-95's?  Pairs Airshow maybe???????
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I have an old Airman magazine in a box somewhere that has an article about Bears coming to Barksdale AFB several years back.  It is rare for them to share the same ramp.
Link Posted: 12/30/2003 3:39:29 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Airwolf:
It seems we could learn a thing or two about Russian design philosophies regarding aircraft (KISS).  
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[ROFL2]........I agree 101%.......that's why I'm a "former" Engineer in the Defense Industry ...the powers that be decided I "wasn't on the team" and "if you like Russia so much go work for them!"

The Russian/Soviet design teams are very savvy and design an excellent product.

America throws money at the problem and we get what we get.

KISS is not in the American intellect.
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