Very little has changed in the configuration and performance of airlifter and air-refueling aircraft since the mid-1950s. Lockheed Martin’s C-5A dramatically expanded payload volume in 1968, and Boeing’s C-17 introduced a strategic airlifter with the ability to make short takeoffs and landings on unprepared runways. Besides those improvements, the U.S. Air Force’s mobility mission has been almost untouched by the survivability requirements that drove radical changes to the ...

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