The US Dept of Defense has announced it has selected Rolls-Royce to supply new commercially-derived turbofans to re-engine the US Air Force’s fleet of Boeing B-52H bombers.
The Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP) contract – valued at up to US$2.6bn (A$3.53bn) – will see more than 608 engines supplied to re-engine the USAF’s 76 B-52Hs with the Rolls-Royce F130 turbofan. Rated at about 17,000lb thrust, the F130 is the military designation for the BR700-725 engine as used on the Gulfstream G650 business jet.
It also shares a common design and some components with the BR700 series of engines used on the Gulfstream G550 and its military C-37 and MC-55A derivatives, the Global Express business jet and its military E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) version, and the Boeing 717 airliner.
“This is a major win for Rolls-Royce,” Craig McVay, SVP Strategic Campaigns, Rolls-Royce Defense said in a company release. “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.”
The R-R F130 was pitted against Pratt & Whitney which had proposed the PW800 from the Dassault Falcon 6X, and the Gulfstream G500 and G600 business jets; GE which was offering the CF34-10 which powers the Embraer E-Jet and COMAC ARJ21 airliners; and CFM with the Passport engine which is used on the Bombardier Global 7500/8000 business jets.
The new engine will utilise the B-52H’s existing engine nacelles and wing pod pylons with few modifications. The more modern engines will be about 40 per cent more fuel efficient than the P&W TF33s they will replace, and will provide improved climb performance and range. It is intended that, once fitted, the new engines will be ‘on the wing for life’ and need never be removed from the aircraft.
In parallel with the CERP, the B-52H will receive a number of other upgrades including a new radar, digital cockpit avionics, improved communications suite, and new wiring. It is planned the venerable bomber will remain in service until 2050, at which point the B-52H – the last B-52 model built – will have been in service for a remarkable 89 years!