The Boeing B-52 is a true timeless warrior, first entering service in 1955. It served as an icon of US air power beginning with the Cold War, and continues to support our warfighters today. The US Air Force plans to keep it in service until the year 2050! The current fleet of B-52H’s was built between 1960-1962 and is the most advanced variant. Its Pratt & Whitney TF33 engines are first-generation, low bypass turbofans are aging and costly to maintain. The US Air Force has budgeted to move forward with a B-52 re-engining program in the Fiscal Year 2019 Department of Defense Budget Proposal.
Watch: Boeing explains how re-engining the B-52 is the only way to keep the aircraft mission-ready for 32 more years:
So how do we fit in? GE has been a technology partner with the US Air Force bombers since the early jet age. Our engines powered the first all jet bomber, the B-45; the first supersonic bomber, the B-58; and the B-1 supersonic bomber and B-2 stealth bomber, which are in active service today. We are ready to provide commercial, off-the-shelf engines offerings for the B-52’s next chapter.
“Requirements are still evolving,” said Steve Timmons, GE Aviation’s B-52 program manager. “Based on the B-52’s design, we can offer the US Air Force two engines in our portfolio: the CF34 and Passport. Both engines are the right size to fit in the existing pylon structure to achieve a one-for-one replacement on this eight-engine aircraft. Given our experience re-engining other legacy military aircraft, we are more than ready and uniquely qualified.”
CF34, a very capable and mature engine, began its service on business aviation jets in 1982 with a design based on the TF34 and more recent enhancements based on the CFM product line. As of 2017, the CF34 engine family had powered more than 12,000 daily passenger flights operating in 130 countries and 1,400 cities. The TF34 is still in service today with the US Air Force on the A-10 Warthog close air support aircraft.
Passport is a new generation of technology for long range business jets and was designed to increase range with better fuel consumption and lower emissions. It includes advanced materials like CMCs and 3D-aerodynamic compressors developed through eCore.
Timmons says that “re-engining the B-52 is a win for everyone—the warfighter, the taxpayers and the environment. We would be honored to be part of its legacy.”