With Rolls-Royce, the life of the Stratofortress will be extended
As expected, on 24 September 2021, the US Department of the Air Force (DAF) awarded Rolls-Royce North America a USD 2.6 billion contract to replace engines for, now assumed, 76 Boeing B-52H Stratofortresses.
Pratt & Whitney and General Electric (GE) Aviation are hereby officially defeated by Rolls-Royce and their F130 engine. On 26 July 2020, Scramble Magazine wrote about the task(s) for the USAF Stratofortress over the next 40 years.
The competitive single-award contract provides for 608 military-derivative commercial engines, plus spare engines, associated support equipment, and commercial engineering data, including sustainment activities, to be used on the current B-52H bomber fleet.
At this moment it is not known if the B-52H will receive another letter designation after undergoing the Commercial Engine Replacement Programme (CERP). The Rolls-Royce F130 engine will replace the Pratt & Whitney 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 new engines onto the aircraft. The USAF plans to finalise integration activities and deliver the first lot of B-52H modified aircraft by the end of 2028.
The first two fully-modified B-52s are projected to be delivered by the end of 2025 and will undergo ground and flight testing. It is expected that the first lot of operational B-52s with the new engines is projected to be delivered by the end of 2028, with the entire fleet modified by 2035. Besides the B-21 Raider, the B-52 will be one of the workhorses of USAF's Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) for years to come and with this latest modification it will allow the B-52 to continue its conventional and standoff mission well into the 2050s.
Photos by USAF