After decades of discussions and proposals, the USAF has issued a request for proposals to three US-based engine manufacturers for more than 600 new engines to re-engine its fleet of 75 Boeing B-52H bombers.
The Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP) RFP has been issued to General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce for engines to replace the B-52H’s P&W TF33-P-3/103 turbofans with new engines that will offer fuel savings of between 10 and 25 per cent, greater climb performance, 15-25 years of operation between overhaul, and a projected service life of 40 years.
Early studies as far back as the 1980s had looked at replacing the B-52H’s TF33s, each of which produces up to 17,000lbs of thrust, with four larger 45,000lb thrust turbofans such as the P&W PW2000 or the Rolls-Royce RB211. But more recent studies have focussed on replacing them with eight business jet engines that would require fewer modification to the engine nacelles and pylons, and would remain within the aircraft’s engine-out performance limitations.
The engines expected to be offered include GE’s Passport engine as used on the Bombardier 7500/8000 business jets or its CF34 as used on Bombardier CRJ and Embraer E-Jets regional airliners, P&W’s PW800 which flies on the Gulfstream G500/G600 and Dassault 6X business jets, and the Rolls-Royce BR725 which is fitted to the Gulfstream G650 and Bombardier Global Express/E-11 aircraft. All engines are in the 16,000 to 21,000lb thrust class, although the un-redacted parts of the RFP do not specify the required thrust rating.
The RFP stresses that no program funds have been committed to the program at this time but, if it proceeds, the USAF plans to initially re-engine two aircraft for test and development work, and that the production program would run over a 17 year period.
The B-52H was the last of the B-52 family to be built, and entered service in 1962. If successfully re-engined, it is conceivable the type could serve 100 years in service.