C-5M Daily Flight Rate Hovers Around 20%, Data Says

Credit: USAF

Over the last four months, the U.S. Air Force’s aging C-5M Super Galaxy daily flight rate hovered around 20%, according to exclusive data provided to Aerospace DAILY.

The low daily flight rate may signal an availability shortfall. One recent example was three C-5s, located at Travis AFB in California, were charged with providing COVID-19 relief supplies to India, but those flights were delayed because of maintenance problems, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters May 4. 

The Pentagon would not comment on how this would impact India receiving emergency supplies such as oxygen cylinders with regulators, N95 masks, and rapid diagnostic kits. India has experienced one of the worst global outbreaks of COVID-19.

“The C-5M plays a critical role in airlifting combat forces, equipment, and supplies for contingencies and humanitarian missions around the globe,” Air Mobility Command (AMC) spokeswoman First Lt. Emma Quirk told Aerospace DAILY in a May 12 statement. “Additionally, its size allows AMC to quickly transport unique cargo such as satellites, helicopters and other large military equipment.”

The data was compiled by Steffan Watkins, an open source research consultant who follows global military and unusual plane movement. It was exclusively released to Aerospace DAILY. The data shows increasing use of the C-5 fleet, but the rate of availability is still low. On average, 17% of the total C-5 fleet flew in January, 17% in February, 21% in March and 25% in April. Because of operational security, the Air Force could not comment on C-5 mission capable rates.

“We’ll stay in touch with our counterparts in India, should there be a need for additional help. The [defense] secretary was very clear in speaking to his counterpart in India that we’ll continue to do whatever we can to help,” Kirby said.

This comes at a time when other nations like China and Russia are strengthening diplomatic relationships through “vaccine diplomacy.” These nations are offering countries without access to the COVID-19 vaccine shots developed by China or Russia. The U.S. has decided not to donate COVID-19 vaccines until all Americans are vaccinated.