Military aircraft come, and military aircraft go, but the B-52 Stratofortress seems to live foreer.
In a sign that the B-52 is here to stay, the U.S. Air Force has awarded Rolls-Royce North America a $2.604,329,361 contract for B-52H Stratofortress military derivate engines.
Under the competitive single award contract, Rolls-Royce will supply 608 engines, plus spare parts, associated support equipment and commercial engineering data. The contract also calls for the company to provide sustainment activities.
“The B-52 CERP is a complex upgrade that not only updates the aircraft with new engines, but updates the flight deck area, struts and nacelles,” said Brig. Gen. John Newberry, Air Force bombers program executive officer.
“Our current virtual digital prototyping efforts are giving us an opportunity to integrate the engines and other changes to the B-52 before doing any physical modifications. This has allowed us to develop the most cost-efficient solution while reducing the time from concept to production.”
The Rolls-Royce F130 engine will replace the TF33-PW-103, which has powered the B-52 since the 1960s, and is projected to no longer be supportable beyond 2030. The B-52 original equipment manufacturer, Boeing, is responsible for integrating the engines onto the aircraft. The Air Force plans to finalize integration activities and deliver the first lot of B-52H modified aircraft by the end of 2028.
The new B-52 engines are expected to be on the B-52H through at least 2050, extending the life of the aircraft that made its first flight April 15, 1952, and entered service in February 1955.
A variant of the Rolls-Royce F130 engine is already in service with the Air Force powering the C-37 and the E-11 BACN.
“We are proud to join a truly iconic U.S. Air Force program and provide world-class, American-made engines that will power its missions for the next 30 years,” said Tom Bell, chairman and CEO of Rolls-Royce North America. “The F130 is a proven, efficient, modern engine that is the perfect fit for the B-52.”
Rolls-Royce will build and test the F130 engines at its Indianapolis, Ind., facility following the recent completion of a $600 million investment to revitalize the advanced manufacturing campus.
“This is a major win for Rolls-Royce,” said Craig McVay, senior vice president for strategic campaigns. “We’ve been planning and preparing for this outcome and are ready to hit the ground running to prove that we are the best choice for the Air Force and the B-52. Our employees stand prepared to deliver once again for the men and women who protect our freedoms every day.”
The B-52H is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction, offensive counter-air and maritime operations. The bomber is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet. It can carry nuclear or precision guided conventional ordinance with worldwide precision navigation capability.
The first two fully modified B-52s are projected to deliver by the end of 2025 and will undergo ground and flight testing. The first lot of operational B-52s with the new engines is projected to deliver by the end of 2028 with the entire fleet modified by 2035.