U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortresses
U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortresses

Rolls-Royce Awarded $500 Million Contract to Power B-52 Commercial Engine Replacement Program

Rolls-Royce Corp., Indianapolis, Indiana, has been awarded an estimated $500,870,458 contract with a six-year base period for B-52 Replacement Engines, with a potential total of $2,604,329,361 if all options are exercised. This contract provides for 608 commercial engines plus spare engines, associated support equipment and commercial engineering data, to include sustainment activities, to be used on the B-52H bomber fleet. The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is an American long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, which has continued to provide support and upgrades. It has been operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since the 1950s. After being upgraded between 2013 and 2015, the last airplanes are expected to serve into the 2050s. The location of performance is Indianapolis, Indiana, and work is expected to be completed by Sept. 23, 2038. U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, is the contracting activity.

The eight engines of the B-52 are paired in pods and suspended by four pylons beneath and forward of the wings’ leading edge. The B-52A models were equipped with Pratt & Whitney J57-P-1W turbojets, providing a dry thrust of 10,000 lbf (44.48 kN) which could be increased for short periods to 11,000 lbf (48.93 kN) with water injection. The water was carried in a 360-gallon tank in the rear fuselage. B-52B, C, D and E models were equipped with Pratt & Whitney J57-P-29W, J57-P-29WA, or J57-P-19W series engines all rated at 10,500 lbf (46.71 kN). The B-52F and G models were powered by Pratt & Whitney J57-P-43WB turbojets, each rated at 13,750 lbf (61.16 kN) static thrust with water injection. In 1996, Rolls-Royce and Boeing jointly proposed fitting each B-52s with four leased Rolls-Royce RB211-535 engines. This would have involved replacing the eight Pratt & Whitney TF33 engines with four RB211 engines, at a cost of approximately US$2.56 billion for the whole fleet.

Rolls-Royce F-130 engine
Rolls-Royce F-130 engine (Photo by Rolls-Royce North America)

On 23 April 2020, the USAF released its request for proposals for 608 commercial engines plus spares and support equipment. This Commercial Engine Re-engining Program (CERP) saw General Electric propose its CF34-10 and Passport turbofans, Pratt & Whitney its PW800, and Rolls Royce its F130. On 24 September 2021, the U.S. Air Force selected the Rolls-Royce F130 as the winner, and announced plans to purchase 650 engines, for $2.6 billion. Rolls-Royce North America has been selected to provide the powerplant for the B-52 Stratofortress under the Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP), further extending a long history of powering the U.S. Air Force. The decision means the American-made Rolls-Royce F-130 engine will power the B-52 for the next 30 years. The Air Force made the announcement after a vigorous multi-year competition. The F130 and its commercial family of engines have accumulated more than 27 million engine flight hours.

The F130 is the perfect fit for the B-52 with proven reliability, superb life cycle cost, and low integration risk. A variant of the Rolls-Royce engine selected to power the iconic B-52 is already in service with the USAF around the world, powering both the C-37 and E-11 BACN aircraft. The F130 offers outstanding reliability with high mission readiness and low maintenance demands. Once installed, the F130 can stay on wing for the entire planned B-52 lifetime. In addition, the F130 engine will provide vastly greater fuel efficiency, increased range, and reduced tanker aircraft requirements. Rolls-Royce will build and test the F130 engines at its Indianapolis, Indiana, facility following the recent completion of a $600 million investment to revitalize the advanced manufacturing campus — providing some of the most technologically advanced state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities anywhere in the world. The B-52 CERP win creates demand for 650 engines to be produced at the site and will bring 150 new high-tech, high-skilled jobs for the state of Indiana.

U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortresses
B-52H Stratofortresses prepare to take off at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Sep. 16, 2021. These aircraft are participating in the Global Strike Challenge which evaluates several squadron’s mission capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zachary Wright)

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