USAF COULD RE-ENGINE ITS B-52 BOMBER FLEET WITH ROLLS ROYCE BR725

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USAF could re-engine its B-52 bomber fleet with Rolls Royce BR725

The Rolls Royce BR725 engines would require a reduced number of air refueling tankers, would avoid obsolescence risks older engines could pose and could provide a 34% improvement in fuel consumption over existing engines

According to Flight Global if the U.S. Air Force (USAF) eventually decides to re-engine its B-52 bomber fleet, ​Rolls Royce (R-R) will pitch its BR725 turbofan to the service.

Actually, as Tom Hartmann, R-R North America’s senior vice-president of customer business, says momentum has increased on the engine replacement as more responses to the USAF’s B-52H engine alternative study have poured in.

But without a firm request for proposal (RFP) in hand, R-R is basing its initial BR725 offering on discussions with the USAF and B-52 manufacturer, Boeing.

However R-R clarified the company is not teaming with Boeing.

“We’re acting like it’s imminent, those are the grindstones we’re working,” Hartmann says. “I think there’s been a sense of urgency for a couple years now. The reason we’re doing this today is because we’re seeing an increased momentum and want to offer our best shot at the competition.”

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The military variant of the BR700-series – F130 – is powering the E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft and the Gulfstream G550-based and C-37A. The engine company would create a new F130 engine assembly and test line in Indianapolis if it wins the contract.

As explained by Hartmann the USAF plan to reconfigure the B-52 with four engines would require expensive modifications to the wings. Noteworthy R-R previously considered a higher thrust variant of the RB211 turbofan engine as a four-engine option on the B-52, but the service does not appear to be moving in that direction.

“Our BR700 is right in the sweet spot,” Hartmann says. “It’s almost a perfect one-for-one fit from a thrust and a size standpoint.”

Noteworthy while Pratt & Whitney has offered an upgraded version of its original TF33 engine to sustain the B-52 through 2050, R-R cites support from both Boeing and USAF for a replacement rather than refurbishment, Hartmann says. The BR725 engines in fact would require a reduced number of air refueling tankers, would avoid obsolescence risks older engines could pose and could provide a 34% improvement in fuel consumption over existing engines, Hartmann concluded.

USAF could re-engine its B-52 bomber fleet with Rolls Royce BR725
Aircraft engine Rolls-Royce BR710

Photo credit: Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong / U.S. Air Force and -jkb- via Wikimedia Commons

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com