The B-52 will now be equipped with F130 Rolls-Royce engines

A video from the firm shows the new engines in action.
Loukia Papadopoulos
A B-52 in the air.
A B-52 in the air.

US Air Force/Wikimedia Commons 

Boeing has released a video where it showcases that the B-52 Commercial Engine Replacement Program has completed its wind tunnel testing for the installation and use of the aircraft's new F130 Rolls-Royce engines according to an article by The War Zone published on Tuesday. We first reported on this development back in March of 2022.

New engines installed and ready to go

The clip now features the aircraft with its new F130 Rolls-Royce Engines installed and active.

The video was posted to Boeing's official Twitter account and stars a 4 percent scale model of the B-52. This model rests in Boeing's transonic wind tunnel, where it is noted that it has been undergoing testing at a max speed of Mach 0.92 and helping collect data for future flight trials. Four engine pods can be seen that will soon be home to eight Rolls-Royce F130 engines.

In the video, Mike Seltman, an aerodynamics engineer at Boeing, further claims that the F130 engines will be more fuel efficient and maintenance-friendly than the Pratt & Whitney TF33-PW-103 currently in use by the B-52. These old-fashioned and out-of-date engines have been out of production since 1985 and will soon be unsupported past 2030 as they have become too expensive to maintain.

"The goal of the wind tunnel testing is to gather data and build up our databases and to reduce our risk to ultimately get to flight tests so we can get the airplane in the air for the customer," Seltman can be heard saying in the company's video.

"The new engines are larger, so we have bigger nacelles, which brings us closer to the wing and brings up interesting aspects in terms of controllability, which is why we're doing the wind tunnel test: to make sure we have all of that covered."

The competition for the B-52 Commercial Engine Replacement Program was kicked off by the Air Force in 2018. Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney, and General Electric Aviation all took part in a three-year-long battle to win the $500.8 million contract. The contract had the potential to reach $2.6 billion.

Almost a year ago, Rolls-Royce won.

Far superior engines

The new contract states that each of the F130s to be delivered will account for a one-for-one replacement of the eight TF33 engines presently aboard each of the Air Force's 76 B-52s. It is estimated that spares will also be provided.

Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce claims that the new engines will achieve 30% greater fuel efficiency, increased range, better field performance, enhanced reliability, and reduced tanker aircraft requirements. This remains to be verified as specific performance metrics for the F130 have yet to be released.

Rolls-Royce further claims that the F130 has been engineered to be able to stay 'on-wing' throughout the planned duration of the B-52's lifetime. The plane is also set to go through a variety of upgrades in the near future, and it is not clear how those improvements will affect its engines. For the time being, however, it seems everything is running smoothly, and the B-52s can be expected to be flying with new, improved engines shortly.

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