The B-52 Commercial Re-Engining Program is employing a paperless, digital, side-by-side comparison to evaluate various engine candidates for the program. A request for proposals on the CERP is expected to be released this summer.
Acting Air Force Secretary John P. Roth told lawmakers on Jun. 17, 2021 that the total program cost of re-engining the B-52H fleet of 76 airplanes will be about $11 billion, a 9 percent jump over a previous estimate because of more up-to-date data.
The recent press reports of a 50 percent increase are incorrect, Roth told the Senate Armed Services Committee. This new number reflects information obtained from virtual prototyping of the system, along with “a reassessment of the requirement” and the inherent complexity of integrating a modern, commercial engine onto the “aging platform that the B-52 is,” he said.
According to Air Force Magazine, the B-52 Commercial Re-Engining Program (CERP) is employing a paperless, digital, side-by-side comparison to evaluate various engine candidates for the program. A request for proposals on the CERP is expected to be released this summer.
GE Aviation, Raytheon Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney unit, and Rolls-Royce are competing.
CF34-10s, which powers commercial aircraft like Bombardier and Embraer regional jets, and Passport turbofans, which power Bombardier’s Global 7500 business jet are the two engines that GE Aviation plans to offer. The PW800 engine, which powers Gulfstream G500 and G600 business jets, is the engine that plans to offer Pratt & Whitney. Finally, R-R plans to offer the F130 engine (shown in the main image of this post), a military derivative of the company’s BR700, which is also the engine of Gulfstream business jets and other aircraft.
A total of 608 engines plus additional spare engines and support equipment are required. They are to be delivered over 17 years. For prototyping purposes, USAF will start with 20 engines—16 for two aircraft plus four spares.
The USAF’s B-52Hs’ engines are the Pratt & Whitney TF33-PW-103s which have powered the aircraft since the early 1960s. The TF33 is based on the commercial JT3D that powered the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8. Each Stratofortress has eight engines.
The USAF is looking for a replacement engine that has a similar size, thrust and weight compared to the legacy P&W powerplants. Each of those engines generate 17,000lb-thrust (75.7kN). The service also wants a modern turbofan with a higher bypass ratio and digital engine controls. It wants that engine to have reduced fuel consumption, noise, emissions and operating costs.
The B-52 program was initially estimated to cost about $10 billion, but Air Force Global Strike Command and Air Force Materiel Command have said the program will likely “pay for itself” through an expected 30 percent gain in fuel efficiency and sharply reduced maintenance requirements. The engines likely will never be removed from their wings because the aircraft are expected to retire before the engines need an overhaul.
AFGSC boss Gen. Timothy M. Ray said last week the CERP could produce a disproportionate reduction in the need for tanker support of the B-52, as much as a 50 percent drop “depending on the scenario.”
The re-engining is the centerpiece of an overall B-52 technology refresh that will also include new radars, connectivity enhancements, and capability for new weapons, such as hypersonic missiles. Boeing, the original prime on the B-52, will handle integration of the new engines.
The B-52 is slated to remain in service through 2050.
Photo credit: Robert Frola Flickr via Wikipedia