Air Force asks Lockheed Martin to upgrade cockpit avionics multifunction displays aboard C-5M cargo jet

June 2, 2022
This approach seeks to reduce the risk of grounding the Air Force's C-5M fleet while they are waiting delivery of mission-critical avionics components.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Military avionics experts at Lockheed Martin Corp. will upgrade the multifunction displays in cockpit avionics of the U.S. Air Force fleet of 52 C-5M Super Galaxy giant four-engine cargo jets under terms of a $34.7 million order announced Tuesday.

Officials of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., are asking the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics segment in Fort Worth, Texas, to build a hardware and software prototype architecture for replacing the C-5M's current multifunction display unit.

This order is part of an overall Air Force effort called the Replacement Multifunctional Controls and Displays (RMCD) program to adapt existing interfaces with the C-5M avionics backplane to avoid any development that would drive a redesign of the entire avionics suite, Air Force officials say.

This design approach seeks to reduce the risk of grounding any of the Air Force's C-5M fleet while they are waiting delivery of mission-critical avionics components, and to improve overall aircraft availability.

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Lockheed Martin will provide engineering and technical services to produce a hardware and software prototype architecture that will move the display upgrade project into engineering and manufacturing development.

The C-5 is larger than a Boeing 747 and is one of the largest military transport aircraft in the world. The aircraft, which has been in the Air Force transport fleet since 1970. Lockheed Martin predecessor Lockheed Corp. is the original designer of the C-5 airlifter. Lockheed and Martin Marietta merged in 1995 to form Lockheed Martin.

The plane is large enough to fit six Greyhound buses, lined up two abreast. The aircraft is designed to perform strategic airlift, emergency aeromedical evacuation, transport of brigade-size forces and equipment, and delivery of oversize cargo.

The aircraft can transport 12.5 tons of cargo, and can carry two M1 Abrams main battle tanks, an Abrams tank plus two M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, 10 Light Armored Vehicles, six AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, or 36 standard cargo pallets. The aircraft's lower deck also can accommodate 270 troops.

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Since 2002 the C-5M has undergone a major series of upgrades, including the Avionics Modernization Program to install a mission computer, a glass cockpit with digital avionics including autopilot and automatic throttles, and communications, navigation, and surveillance components for air traffic management. The aircraft also has received new engines.

The new C-5M display and graphics processors will replace legacy multifunction display through legacy interfaces to the existing mission processing system, while also being prepared for future interface technology updates.

Lockheed Martin also will update the C-5M's operational flight programs, update the plane's diagnostic system by using an Ethernet interface, and update the C-5M's aircraft wiring.

On this order Lockheed Martin will do the work in Fort Worth, Texas, and should be finished by May 2025. For more information contact Lockheed Martin Aeronautics online at, or the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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