Military Aviation

The new engines will remain on wing for the remainder of the BUFF life: Rolls-Royce has begun testing F130 engines for the USAF B-52 Stratofortress fleet

The new engines will extend the life of the B-52 aircraft for 30 years. F130 engines are so durable they are expected to remain on wing for the remainder of the aircraft life.

Rolls-Royce announced on Mar. 1, 2023 it has launched F130 engine testing at the company’s outdoor test facility at the NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, US. Rolls-Royce F130 engines were selected by the US Air Force (USAF) to replace the existing powerplants in the B-52 fleet, with over 600 new engine deliveries expected. This milestone test program is the first time F130 engines have been tested in the dual-pod engine configuration of the B-52 aircraft. Each B-52 aircraft has eight engines in four pods.

The engine testing will focus on crosswind aerodynamic flow as well as confirming the successful operation of the engine’s digital controls system. Early results from the testing have been very positive with additional test data to be analyzed over the next several months.

Rolls-Royce is collaborating very closely with the Air Force and Boeing, which is managing the overall engine integration and B-52 aircraft modernization program. The new engines will extend the life of the B-52 aircraft for 30 years. F130 engines are so durable they are expected to remain on wing for the remainder of the aircraft life.

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Candice Bineyard, Director, Programs – Defence, said in a company news release:

“We are excited to begin this milestone testing program, the first step for what will be decades of successful engine operation for the United States Air Force B-52 fleet. Rolls-Royce continues to work very closely with the Air Force and Boeing to ensure the engine testing and integration process run smoothly. This will result in higher fuel efficiency, reduced air refueling requirements, and significantly lower maintenance costs for the B-52 fleet. We look forward to sharing test results with the Air Force and Boeing as the test plan progresses at the NASA Stennis Space Center.”

F130 engines will be manufactured, assembled and tested at Rolls-Royce facilities in Indianapolis, the company’s largest production facility in the US. Rolls-Royce has invested $1 Billion in recent years to completely modernize manufacturing and testing facilities in Indiana, as well as for advanced technology.

F130 engines were selected for the B-52 by the Air Force in September 2021 following a competitive selection process. According to the video in this post, the F130 is derived from the Rolls-Royce BR family of commercial engines, with over 30 million hours of operation and a high reliability rate.

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The Rolls-Royce F130 engine will replace the TF33-PW-103, which has powered the B-52 since the 1960s, and is projected to no longer be supportable beyond 2030.

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 B-52 original equipment manufacturer, Boeing, is responsible for integrating the engines onto the aircraft.

The first two fully modified B-52s are projected to deliver by the end of 2025 and will undergo ground and flight testing. The first lot of operational B-52s with the new engines is projected to deliver by the end of 2028 with the entire fleet modified by 2035.

Photo credit: Rolls Royce

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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