B-52 and Rolls-Royce.  The legendary attacker will receive a completely new engine

B-52 and Rolls-Royce. The legendary attacker will receive a completely new engine

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a legendary aircraft. Recently, the people following the air traffic in our part of Europe were delighted with their trip through Romanian airspace. This 70-year-old building will not be retired just yet, it will be seriously renovated.

One hundred years, one hundred years…

America’s eight turbojet strategic bomber was first flown in 1952, seventy years ago, but it is still in service. Although there are not many of them compared to previous decades, out of 744 units the US Air Force has kept only 76 units.

What is most interesting, this plane was released for a short time, production ended in 1962, so even the smallest examples today have 60 behind their necks. To enable them to operate safely for the next 30 years, the army decided to carry out a major modernization, including the replacement of all engines.

Changing the guard

Originally, B-52s were built with various Pratt & Whitney engines. All aircraft remaining in service are the B-52H variant, equipped with TF33-P-3 engines, which are already years old. To keep these aircraft in service, the army launched CERP (Commercial Engine Production Program) with the supply of 650 engines for their support.

General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce participated in the competition. The latter won with his F130 design, a military version of the BR725 engines used in Gulfstream G650 civil aircraft. The value of the entire contract is 2.6 billion US Dollars. Testing of the modified engine for the B-52 is scheduled to begin this year.

It’s not just the engine

The contract provides that the entire modernization operation should be completed in 2038, when the aircraft will be replaced directly with engines and most of the equipment and systems on board. Pilots will receive new displays and digital engine control panels, new pneumatic systems, electric generators and engine nacelles will be visible.

The modern B-52 should be more durable and economical in terms of fuel consumption. For the military, this means more flexibility in the operation of this aircraft, which, thanks to its greater range, will be able to operate in areas far from American air bases.

A modern service and maintenance system, developed in a digital engineering system, will also be designed for modern aircraft. As part of it, real models of aircraft, engines and parts were created, which also help in the rapid integration of engines and aircraft.

The last step is important because, due to the troublesome nature of the TF33 engine parts, everyone is hoping that there will not be too much delay in relation to the envisaged schedule. If that happens, the B-52s should be “flying” by the 1950s. So they would be out of service at about 100 years old, which I have to admit is impressive.

Photo: wikipedia: US Air Force / Score 9254 / Greyjoy balloon / Z3144228