Rolls-Royce to power USAF B-52 bombers

Rolls-Royce North America has been selected to provide the powerplant for the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) B-52 Stratofortress under the Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP), meaning that US-made F130 engines will power the aircraft for the next 30 years.

The F130 and its commercial family of engines have accumulated more than 27 million engine flight hours, with the variant selected for the B-52 programme already in service with the USAF’s C-37 and E-11 BACN platforms.

USAF B-52 Stratofortress
The B-52 Stratofortress first entered USAF service in 1955 and has undergone a range of upgrades in the decades since. USAF/Staff Sgt Devin Rumbaugh

Publishing a formal notice on September 24, the US Department of Defense estimated the indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract award at US$500.8m with a six-year base period for B-52 replacement engines, with a potential total of US$2.6bn if all options are exercised.

The contract provides for 608 commercial engines plus spare engines, associated support equipment and commercial engineering data, to include sustainment activities, to be used on the B-52H bomber fleet, with work is expected to be completed by September 23, 2038.

The award is the result of a competitive acquisition in which one solicitation was posted and four offers were received. Fiscal Year 2021 research and development funds of US$5m are obligated at the time of award.

In a September 24 release Rolls-Royce stated the F130 engine provide high mission readiness and low maintenance demands, and once installed will stay with the aircraft through the entirety of its service life. The engine also provides greater fuel efficiency and increased range, reducing the requirement for mid-air refuelling.

Rolls-Royce will build and test the F130 engines at its Indianapolis, Indiana, facility following the recent completion of a US$600m investment at the site. The B-52 CERP win creates demand for 650 engines to be produced at the site.

Craig McVay, SVP strategic campaigns, Rolls-Royce Defense said: “This is a major win for Rolls-Royce. We’ve been planning and preparing for this outcome and are ready to hit the ground running.”

The company has a history in powering a range of fixed- and rotary-wing platforms operated by the US military, including the C-130H, C-130J, CV-22 Osprey and Global Hawk UAV in the USAF fleet.