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C-5M Avionics Modernization Program (AMP)

Lockheed Martin submitted a proposal in 1999 to the US Air Force for the C-5 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) to replace existing avionics with a modern, digital, highly reliable system on all 126 C-5s in the US Air Force fleet. Partnered with Lockheed Martin, Honeywell Defense Avionics Systems (DAS) provided the Versatile Integrated Avionics (VIA), an FAA-certified system developed by its commercial sister divisions that was the latest implementation of Honeywell's integrated modular avionics (IMA) technology. Honeywell's IMA and VIA systems were at the time used on 80 percent of the commercial airliners manufactured in the United States. The VIA-based architecture met Global Air Traffic Management (GATM) requirements as well as provided the potential capabilities to meet requirements in the future. It integrated liquid crystal displays (LCDs) for flight and engine instruments and also integrated the new engine FADEC (full authority digital engine control) as required. On 22 January 1999, the contract for the C-5 AMP was officially awarded to Lockheed Marine Aeronautical Systems.

With a 2000 study revealing that 80 percent of the C-5's airframe service life remained, a program ensued to modernize the aircraft. From the C-5 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) to Global Air Traffic Management (GATM) compliance to comprehensive re-engining and reliability improvement, the program was intended to restore aircraft reliability and maintainability, maintain structural system integrity, reduce cost of ownership and increase operational capability well into the 21st century.

Phase I of an Air Force planned two-phase modernization effort for the C-5 [Phase II is the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program (RERP)] is the AMP. The AMP implemented communication, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) [formerly, Global Air Traffic Management (GATM)] and navigation/safety capability and the All Weather Flight Control System (AWFCS).

Under the AMP Deputy Secretary of Defense (DepSecDef) directed navigation/safety equipment was installed, including: Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) and Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), leading to a reduction in the threat of controlled flight into terrain and mid-air collisions. The Secretary of Defense directed the navigation and safety equipment be developed and implemented after U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and 34 others died April 3, 1996 in a US Air Force airplane crash outside Dubrovnik, Croatia. Brown was leading a delegation of US business and banking executives on a three-day economic tour of the Balkans when his plane slammed into a mountain ridge. CNS/ATM capability requirements incorporated into the aircraft were intended to meet current and future International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)/Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements and to progress towards a free flight capability.

The AWFCS portion of AMP replaced low reliability line replaceable units (LRUs) in the automatic flight control system and replaced aging, non-supportable mechanical instruments in the engine and flight systems. Connectivity to mobility command and control capabilities were also to be incorporated in the AMP design. The TCAS portion was accelerated ahead of the rest of the AMP modification and was completed 31 Oct 2002. Two AMP RDT&E test articles were funded during FY99 for installation and flight test in FY02/03/04/05. The first aircraft to be modified under the C-5 Avionics Modernization Program at Lockheed Martin's Marietta, Ga., facility was inducted 12 June 2002, taking the first tangible step in keeping the cargo giant flying another 40 years. The aircraft, a B model from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., was one of two C-5 avionics upgrades to be tested before being implemented throughout the rest of the fleet. The upgrades were also tested on an older-model C-5A, inducted into the AMP later in the month. The first flight of a C-5 equipped with the AMP occurred in December 2002. The final software build, which was required to address system effectiveness & suitability, was expected to complete in CY05 with operational testing to follow.

In May 2002 Lockheed Martin released the first complete, integrated Block 1.1 Operational Flight Program Engineering Test Software for the C-5 AMP. As of mid-2002 the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System, or TCAS, had been installed and fielded on 119 C-5s - ahead of the rest of the AMP components. Also included in the upgrades was a new communication, navigation and surveillance equipment designed to meet the FAA's Global Air Traffic Management requirements, an all-weather flight control system, and software improvements to provide connectivity to the Mobility Command and Control System called Mobility 2000 or M2K.

With the advanced avionics provided under AMP, the Air Force met airspace requirements anywhere in the world at the time, and the program allowed moving the warfighter and critical combat equipment faster and more efficiently. Air Force officials planned on including up to 126 aircraft in the C-5 AMP, as part of an overall upgrade effort managed by the C-5 Development System Office. The first aircraft modified under the AMP flew on 21 December 2002, ahead of a February 2003 scheduled first flight.

On 7 April 2003 the USAF awarded Lockheed Martin a contract for the first production phase of the AMP, valued at $20.3 million. The contract covered 8 AMP kits, plus installation, expected at the time to begin in May 2004. At the time, the overall AMP contract, awarded 4 years prior, had been valued at over $600 million.

In November 2004, the Acting Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) commissioned a study to review acquisition-related actions taken by the former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition and Management (Principal Deputy). As a result of that study, in a memo dated 11 February 2005, the Acting Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) identified eight actions for further investigation and requested that the Department of Defense Inspector General review them. On of these was the C-5 AMP contract.

The results of the audit request in 2005 were published in February of 2006. The conclusion reached by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense was that Air Force personnel did not provide support for their decisions and bypassed risk reduction efforts normally in place in the source selection process. Improvements were needed to ensure that the source selection records are adequate and decisions are properly justified. The lack of controls over the source selection process had left the C-5 AMP solicitation and contract award unnecessarily vulnerable.

In a 2005 GAO report the program noted that the overall quantity of the C-5 fleet has been reduced from 126 to 112 due to the retirement of 14 aircraft. C-5 aircraft were required to undergo the AMP modifications prior to the RERP modifications. However, only 55 aircraft had been approved for the AMP upgrades, while 112 were awaiting the RERP upgrades. The Air Force needed to determine how many of the remaining 57 C-5s would receive the AMP upgrades. That decision would not be made until it determined the correct mix of C-5 and C-17 aircraft needed to meet DoD's airlift needs. According to program officials, the Air Force was performing mobility studies that would be used to make a mobility mix decision. Until it aws decided whether to use C-17s to replace some, or all, of the earlier 57 C-5s, the number of aircraft to undergo the AMP and RERP modernization would remain uncertain. Operational testing of the C-5 AMP was declared completed by the end of 2006.

It was reported in a March 2007 by the Government Accountability Office while the critical components of the AMP were generally assumed to have reached maturity, there was no conclusive way to assess that because of their COTS nature. The report also cited a DoD test official in saying that there had been some 240 deficiencies including autopilot disconnecting during flight, flight management system problems, and engine display issues that were identified during testing. While the primary contractor, Lockheed Martin, had said it had released all the design drawings in 2006, it subsequently released another 270 in 2007, meaning that it had in fact only released 54 percent of the necessary design information to the GAO in terms of the revised design. The GAO uses the released design information to assess design stability and predict cost overruns.

In 2006 the program was halted for 6 months because of design maturity and reliability issues. An additional fourteen requirements were expected to have been met by 2005, but had not been met by March 2007, including issues relating to takeoff and landing data being processed by the system. Fulfillment of some of the 14 requirements were subsequently pushed into the RERP program, while others are planned under a proposed block C-5 upgrade program. As of 2007 the AMP program office considered development complete.

While the C-5 fleet at the time of the program's inception was 126 aircraft, and had been restructured in 2005, by 2007 111 aircraft were to be potentially modified under the AMP program. The 2007 GAO report noted that current funding did not allow for the modification of 52 of the 111 aircraft, those that had not already been modified. Taking into account current unit costs it was projected that modification of the remaining 52 aircraft could total in excess of $800 million.

The GAO cited the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation in a March 2008 report, that the program was not operationally suitable. According to program officials, 250 deficiencies (an increase of 10 from a 2007 assessment), including software issues related to autopilot disconnects, existed, and 14 operational requirements had been waived. Program officials expected that 44 of the deficiencies would be corrected as part of a sustainment contract software build in August 2008. The corrections to 24 of these 44 deficiencies would also be included in the C-5 RERP. The C-5 RERP program was also expected to address 4 of the 14 previously waived operational requirements, such as the Auto Take Off and Go Around functionality and memory improvement for the Flight Management System database. Air Force officials were considering a block upgrade program beginning in 2010 to correct the remaining deficiencies and the 10 unmet operational requirements.

Program unit costs had increased approximately 56 percent since the original estimate because of a reduction in the total number of aircraft scheduled to receive the AMP upgrade, as well as increases in development and procurement estimates related to software reliability problems.

In their 2007 assessement the GAO reported that the program did not have enough funding to implement an Air Force mobility study recommendation to modify all C-5 aircraft. At that time, there was only funding for 59 aircraft. The Air Force requested funding in FY08 to complete the AMP upgrade for all aircraft in the C-5 fleet. However, officials continued to study options to meet its airlift requirements because of cost increases associated with the C-5 RERP. The GAO speculated that this could result in a smaller number of C-5 aircraft receiving the modernization upgrade.

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