What Are Some of the Cargo Planes Used in the Air Force?


Quick Answer

Cargo planes used by the U.S. Air Force as of 2015 include the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy and the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. Both aircraft have earned distinction over decades of valuable service in military and humanitarian operations.

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Full Answer

The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is an intercontinental range aircraft capable of carrying oversized loads and, at 247 feet in length, is one of the largest military planes in the world. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 840,000 pounds with a 240,000-pound payload capacity. Since 1969, the Air Force has used this plane to support operations during military conflicts in Vietnam, the Middle East and Afghanistan, as well for missions to supply humanitarian aid and disaster relief around the world. Its successor, the C-5M Super Galaxy, has upgrades that include new engines and electronics with modern aviation equipment and technology to extend its range to over 5,000 miles and keep it in service until 2040 and beyond.

Despite widespread criticism and cost overruns, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III quickly earned a reputation as a powerful workhorse after its first deployment in 1993. It is 174 feet long with a maximum gross takeoff weight of 585,000 pounds and a 170,900-pound payload capacity. Its ability to handle oversized loads and short runway needs led to its extensive use for military and humanitarian purposes in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan. The C-17 also proved valuable during relief efforts during Hurricane Katrina and in cleanup missions following the 2011 Fukushima earthquake.

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