Rolls-Royce F130 - New Engine For B-52 Strategic Bomber Begins Testing

Rolls-Royce F130 - New Engine For B-52 Strategic Bomber Begins Testing

In order to extend its service life until 2050, the B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber underwent the Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP), namely the installation of a new engine, Rolls-Royce F130, which replaces the current engine, Pratt & Whitney TF33-PW-103 which has been used since the 1960s.

And on March 1, 2023, Rolls-Royce announced that it had started testing the F130 engine at NASA's Stennis Space Center, in Mississippi. Quoted from (1/3/2023), Rolls-Royce said that the test on March 1 marked the first time the F130 engine was tested in a dual-pod engine configuration for the B-52 bomber.

Engine testing at NASA's Stennis Space Center, which follows wind tunnel testing of the new engine's nacelles, will focus on crosswind aerodynamic flow as well as ensuring the successful operation of the engine's digital control system.

Initial results from testing are very positive with additional testing data to analyze over the next few months. The US Air Force plans to complete integration activities and deliver the first lots of modified B-52 aircraft in the 2026–2027 timeframe, with initial operational capability of the B-52 expected in 2030.

The new engines are expected to remain on the B-52 for the service life of the aircraft, at least into 2050 increasing fuel efficiency and range, reducing emissions in unburned hydrocarbons, and significantly reducing maintenance costs.

The F130 engine will be manufactured, assembled and tested at Rolls-Royce's facility in Indianapolis, the company's largest production facility in the US. Rolls-Royce has invested US$1 Billion in recent years to completely modernize its manufacturing and testing facilities in Indianapolis.

The TF-33 engines currently in service can no longer be supported after 2030, so the B-52 Commercial Engine Replacement Program began in 2018, with General Electric Aviation, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce vying for the contract.

And the winner was Rolls-Royce with a military version of the BR725 engine used by the Gulfstream G650 business jet and currently used as a powertrain on BACN's C-37 and E-11 jet transport aircraft in service with the US Air Force.

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