The F130, for which Rolls-Royce won the competition for a new engine for the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress in autumn 2021, is not a new development. It comes from the successful BR700 family, which has proven itself in nearly 30 million operating hours since the mid-1990s and today can be found mainly on business jets from Gulfstream and Bombardier. But while the BR700 series is built at the German site in Dahlewitz in Brandenburg, Rolls-Royce manufactures the F130 engines for the B-52 in Indianapolis, Indiana. “American jet engines” for an “American made” bomber is the slogan. And of course the F130 is also being tested in the USA: at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
Rolls Royce (Screenshot on Youtube)
Rolls Royce twins
A special feature that Rolls-Royce faces with the B-52 is the twin engine arrangement in the so-called twin pods, which have been characteristic of America’s oldest long-range bomber. Because the B-52 will continue to be eight radiators, carrying its eight engines in four nacelles twice under the wings. The test that Rolls-Royce has now started on an open test bench at NASA is therefore a first demonstration: For the first time, two F130s placed next to each other should show what they are capable of – in a specific configuration. which they are shown Stratofortress will get again.
At this point you will find external content that complements the article. You can show it and hide it again with one click.
According to Rolls-Royce, the focus of the first series of tests is on aerodynamic aspects, especially how the engines work in passing lanes. Rolls-Royce also checks whether the digital engine control works as planned. The first test run has yielded promising results, according to Indianapolis. In the coming months, more test data will be determined and analyzed. Rolls-Royce is working closely with the US Air Force and Boeing on the test campaign, the company said. This ensures that the engine testing and integration process into the B-52 air system goes smoothly.
For its part, Boeing tested the engine parts of the bomber in the wind tunnel as early as autumn 2022. “The new nacelles are bigger, which brings us closer to the wing – and brings with it several interesting things in terms of control,” said the expert of Boeing’s aerodynamics Mike Seltman at the time, explaining the challenge he and his team were facing.
100 years B-52?
According to Rolls-Royce, it intends to supply more than 600 F130 turbofans for the B-52 modernization program. If everything goes according to plan, the first B-52s between 2026 and 2027 will be able to replace the old TF33 with their future engines. According to previous calculations, they should use around 40 percent of fuel, resulting in lower maintenance costs, more flying and – last but not least – also reducing CO.2– Significantly reduce production. “The new engines will add 30 years to the life of the B-52,” Rolls-Royce said, adding that the F130s “are so durable that they are expected to remain on the wing for the life of the aircraft.” With the B-52, which has been in the air for what feels like forever, such predictions sound audacious. But at least the F130 can help the Methuselah bomber to celebrate its 100th anniversary. With that, the aircraft and engines will last “only” 32 more years…