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Key Distinctions Between C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy

Key Distinctions Between C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy

One of the first distinctions between the C-5 and the C-17 is the C-5 has doors on both ends, but the C-17 only has doors on the back.

This means that if the cargo is automobiles, a C-5 can drive in one end, park (including tie-down), and then open the other end and drive the vehicles straight out when the plane arrives at its destination.

With a C-17, there’s only a rear opening, so the cars can drive right in, but they must be backed out at the destination, which is a lengthy process.

The C-17 has the ability to turn in its own radius. It can be used on dirt landing strips with some difficulty. The C-17 excels at quick takeoffs and landings.

On the other hand, C5 can achieve this on paper, but it isn’t particularly practical. The C-17 is a more modern design that offers improved structural integrity and mobility.

It substantially improved availability and in-theater maintainability thanks in part to its modern design and enhanced diagnostics like AWODS.

In this blog, we’ll be talking about C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III. I’ll address the similarities and differences between them along with a detailed comparison of characteristics and specifications.

Let’s get started.

C17 Vs. C5

The C-17 is more agile and cost-effective to fly. The size is sufficient to transport most military cargo, far more than the C5.

The C17’s tactical maneuvering and landing capabilities allow it to fly directly from the United States and land wherever cargo is required. The C5 flies from one lengthy runway to the next.

The C-17 was the first plane to have a significant composite structure on board (The Tail). The C17 had some early teething issues, but later production won quality awards.

The C5 was supposed to push the boundaries of technology, but it has suffered structural and tire issues. The 747, which was a little smaller and went on to commercial success, was the C5 competition’s loser.

In most instances, the C-17’s size makes it more suitable for cargo delivery. Acquiring enough cargo to fill a C5 for delivery is not as common as finding a load for a C-17.

The argument for the 787 A380 is similar. A C-17 can be loaded and flown from point to point. The C5 is well-suited for hub-and-spoke operations.

What’s The Difference Between The C-17 Globemaster And The C-5 Galaxy, Two Planes?

Both are strategic airlift planes that, along with the C-130, form the backbone of the US Air Force’s heavy-lift transports. The C-17 Globemaster III is a military transport aircraft.

Galaxy C-5

They are easily distinguishable by size alone when placed side by side. (Note that the ‘small’ plane they’re flying with is nonetheless a huge C-130.)

The C-17 and C-5 have some similarities in their roles. They’re designed to transport a significant amount of cargo into most airports across the world. The C-5 will be the largest and heaviest of them all.

Following that, the C-17 was developed to supplement the larger, more expensive C-5 and allow effective delivery into less well-prepared airstrips.

Talking about C-17

On a dirt strip, the C-17 is almost as happy as it is on a paved runway. Here’s a handy chart with a few more details, plus a C-130 tossed in for good measure.

The C-17 was developed as a supplement to the larger, more expensive C-5, allowing for effective delivery into less well-prepared airstrips.

On a dirt strip, the C-17 is almost as happy as it is on a paved runway.

Why Was The C-17 Globemaster Created When The C-130 And C-5 Were Already Available?

It’s faster than a C-130 and has greater capacity and efficiency than a C-5, but one of its strongest attributes is its short-field capability.

The C-17 can land and take off from airfields with runways as short as 3500 feet and can also land on unpaved surfaces successfully.

In general, we (C-5s) fly farther, faster, and higher for similar fuel burns.

Each aircraft has a role in “the system,” but the essential distinction is in the missions for which they were built. Each is quite well-suited to its specific mission.

The C-17 pilots claim that they fly twice as much as we do. My reaction is that we move more things in the same period of time even though they fly twice as often.

The C-17 is a good plane, but I believe the C-5 gets a terrible name as well.

A plane
C-17 Globemaster is considered a unique airplane.

What Makes The C-17 Globemaster III Aircraft So Unique?

It’s a perfect size and has the perfect STOL capability.

It’s proving to be an excellent companion to the old C-130. It’s expensive to purchase, as are other aircraft products, but some governments are doing so due to their effectiveness in disaster assistance.

The Berlin Airlift demonstrated to the world the benefits of having big transports in full-time military service that could be used for civilian supply-and-relief missions.

This C-54 was built to honor the Berlin Airlift’s accomplishments. It’s no surprise that some forces have purchased them and are using them largely for civil disaster relief operations.

Given the increased awareness of voters, the widespread dissemination of information, and the enforcement of political accountability.

They can save your life.

CharacteristicsC-5 GalaxyC-17 Globemaster III
Length75.53 m
174 ft. (53.04 m)
Wingspan to Winglet Tip
67.91 m169.8 ft. (51.74 m)
Height 19.84 m
55.1 ft. (16.79 m)
Weight (empty) 381 t172 t
C-5 Galaxy Vs. C-17 Globemaster

What Are The Distinctions Between C-17 Globemaster III And C-5 Galaxy?

I’ll attempt to keep this as factual as possible. The C-5 is and has always been a strategic airlift plane, but the C-17 is that in-between plane that Ray mentioned.

Three C-17s can be replaced by a C-5.

  • C-5: transports 36 cargo and 73 passengers at the same time.
  • C-17: 18 pallets with no passengers, or a combination of the two.

To be honest, we used to be authorized to perform many of the roles and missions that the C-17 now boasts about. 

The C-5 did low-level airdrops and was designed to operate from bad fields during the Cold War. It did low levels.

Many people shared their experiences with flying these airplanes. Those missions away to show off the C-17’s “capabilities” to better “sell” the C-17 to Congress.

They said they had some amazing capabilities in terms of how much we can carry and how far we can go with the new engines (C-5M).

However, the C-17 is generally more reliable than the C-5 (they are also 20+ years younger and the system still has fresh parts). The C-17 can land and take off from smaller fields.

The C-17 can take off and land from both shorter and rougher fields (however we don’t need a minimum ray length of 8400 ft. to takeoff or land at equivalent cargo weights to the C-17).

A detailed comparison between the two aircrafts
Airplanes taking off

Why Is The C-17 Globemaster’s Vertical Stabilizer So Tall?  How Big Of A Flare Is Required?

The size of the stabilizer is defined by how large it must be in order for the airplane to maintain directional stability, especially at low speeds.

The size of the rudder and stabilizer is also important; ideally, the rudder and stabilizer will have enough authority to withstand a double engine failure on one side without causing the plane to fly too fast.

You don’t need any precise flare size if you’re asking about magnesium flares used to decoy infrared missiles.
They just employ ordinary flares as countermeasures. 

They wouldn’t just release one missile if they were trying to intercept an inbound missile; they’d discharge a swarm of them.

They just use standard countermeasure flares. If they are trying to counter an inbound missile, they would not just release one anyway – they would release a bunch of them.

What Is The Size Of A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III?

The C-17 is slightly shorter than an Airbus A330, measuring 53 meters versus 58 meters for the smaller versions of the A330. It’s also a little smaller than an A330, with a fuselage diameter of 5.6 meters compared to 5.5 meters for the C-17.

The maximum weight of the C-17 is 265 tons, compared to 242 tons for the A330.

The C-17 has a range of 8.400 km versus 13.450 km for the A330 because the Globemaster’s engines are a little older, having been designed for the Boeing 757 during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Whilst the A330’s engines were designed in the 1980s and began service in the early 1990s. The A330 has a cruising speed of 870 kph at 12.000 m, while the Globemaster has a speed of 869 KPH.

So, give or take, it’s like a mid-size airliner.

An image of boeing 757
C-5 is known as a super galaxy.

Why Aren’t Civil Versions Of The C-5 And C-17 Flown By Air Cargo Carriers?

Ground shippers don’t employ off-road vehicles that are exceptionally tough.

At the very least, they’ve reinforced undercarriages for difficult runways; elevated engines to prevent foreign item ingestion.

It contains flare and radar warning receiver fittings; at the very least, short landing capabilities; mid-air refueling capabilities; and so on.

All of this adds to the overall weight and cost.

Some could be deleted, but the airframe would still be less than optimum. To convert a passenger plane to a freight plane, simply remove the windows (which reduce weight and increase strength) and build a large door.

Passenger planes already carry a lot of cargo in their belly holds, and 747-Combis carry both passengers and cargo on the upper deck. Many passenger planes were converted to freight planes around the middle of the twentieth century.

Passengers are sometimes referred to as “self-loading freight” by pilots.

On budget airlines, I believe management’s opinion is also important.

Check out this video to know the strength of C 17 and C5.


In conclusion, I’d say that;

  • The C-17 is more maneuverable and economical to fly. 
  • The size is significantly more than the C5 for transporting most military items.
  • Both planes are strategic airlifters that, along with the C-130, make up the backbone of the US Air Force’s heavy-lift transports. 
  • When placed side by side, they are immediately recognizable based on size alone. 
  • It’s worth noting that the “small” jet they’re flying with is still a massive C-130.
  • The size of the rudder and stabilizer is also crucial; ideally, the rudder and stabilizer should have enough authority to withstand a double engine failure on one side without the plane flying too quickly.

All in all, they have contrasting characteristics, not only in terms of size but in other capacities too.

Want to find out the difference between M14 and M15? Take a look at this article: What Is The Difference Between M14 and M15? (Explained)

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