USAF Opens Bidding Phase Of B-52 Re-Engine Competition

Credit: U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Air Force has kicked off a three-way competition to re-engine the entire 76-aircraft B-52 fleet from 2021 to 2035.

The request for proposals (RFP) released on May 19 invites bids from GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce to supply 608 engines to replace each of the eight, 60-year-old, 16,000 lb.-thrust P&W TF33 turbofans on the heavy bomber.

GE can choose between the CF34 or Passport engine or offer both. P&W has proposed the PW800. Rolls-Royce will offer a military version of the BR.725.

The Air Force RFP lays out a two-step selection process. In step one, companies must submit “virtual” prototypes of their engine, meaning a digital design with integrated models for manufacturing, performance and sustainment.

Step 2 calls for the traditional engine source selection process, which will be informed by the data from the virtual prototypes and an integration risk analysis completed in the first step.

The Air Force has said the TF33 engines that now power the B-52 cannot be sustained practically beyond 2030. The Cold War jet, meanwhile, is expected to continue operating beyond 2050, outliving the B-2 and B-1B fleets scheduled for retirement in the 2030s.

Armed with a new class of hypersonic and long-range missiles, including the nuclear Long-Range Stand-Off Weapon, the B-52 will perform the standoff mission, while the B-21 penetrates into contested airspace.

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.


Are we still looking at a 1 for 1 replacement or are they going to finally go 1 for 2?
Will GE and P&W be paying for the militarising of their offerings, or the US taxpayer?
The RR engine is from the MRA4 program and is already built to military specs.