On September 24, the Air Ministry awarded a $ 2.6 billion contract to Rolls-Royce Corporation to supply new engines to the B-52’s Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP). The company will build 608 F130 engines to re-engine 76 B-52Hs, along with 42 spare parts, at its manufacturing facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. The contract also covers the supply of spare parts, support equipment, engineering data and sustainment activities.
The CERP program aims to deliver the first two modified bombers by the end of 2025 for testing. By the end of 2028, the first operational batch is expected to have been delivered, with the entire fleet having been re-engineered by 2035. Based on the commercial BR725 powertrain, the F130 engine will deliver significant increases in efficiency energy efficiency and autonomy, and significant reductions in unburned hydrocarbon emissions and maintenance costs.
“[CERP] is the largest and most comprehensive upgrade to the B-52 in more than half a century, ”said Major General Jason Armagost, director of strategic plans, programs and requirements at the Air Force Global Strike Command. “The B-52 is the backbone of the nation’s bombing force and this modification will allow it to continue its critical conventional and remote mission into the 2050s.”
Early B-52H re-engine proposals focused on the use of four large turbojets, but the structural changes required were seen as too costly. As a result, CERP aims to replace all eight Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-103 low dilution turbofan engines on each aircraft on a one-to-one basis. The installation of the new engines is still a complex upgrade, requiring modifications to the engine struts and nacelles, as well as to the cockpit. Digital prototyping is used to integrate engines and associated changes into a virtual environment to establish the most cost effective and efficient solution before making physical changes.
The F130 engine is part of the Rolls-Royce BR700 family, which was developed in the 1990s by Rolls-Royce in a joint venture with BMW. In 2000, Rolls-Royce took over the entire program, including the Dahlewitz commercial engine plant in Germany. The first version, the BR710, was chosen to equip the Gulfstream V / G550 and the Bombardier Global Express. As such, it is already in service in the US Air Force with the C-37 and E-11 Battlefield Airborne Communication Node (BACN). A considerably more powerful derivative, the BR715, powers the Boeing 717 airliner.
Boasting a decade of technological advancements, the BR725 was certified in 2009 with a larger fan and numerous internal improvements. With a maximum rated thrust of 16,900 pounds, its first application was the Gulfstream G650 business jet, now followed – in military form F130 – by the B-52H. The continuous development of the BR725 gave birth to the Pearl family which powers the Global 5500/6500 and the upcoming Gulfstream G700 and Dassault Falcon 10X.