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(Bloomberg) -- Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc’s North America unit beat General Electric Co. and incumbent Pratt & Whitney to provide upgraded engines for the Air Force’s aging B-52 bomber in an award that could grow to $2.6 billion, the Pentagon announced Friday.

S. Korea And U.S. Deploy B-52 Strategic Bomber Over Korean Peninsula
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The deal could grow to $2.6 billion if all options are exercised. The Air Force wants to keep the B-52 in service until about 2050. The engine replacement is part of an upgrade program estimated at $11 billion that includes new flight systems, cockpit throttles and cockpit displays.

The B-52, which first flew Cold War missions in 1954 with nuclear bombs, has since evolved into a non-nuclear, precision-guided weapons platform. It’s known affectionately among aviators as BUFF, an acronym sometimes described as “Big Ugly Fat Fellow.”

Work will be performed at the Rolls-Royce facility in Indianapolis and is expected to be completed by September 2038, the Pentagon said. Rolls-Royce said it has invested more than $600 million in Indianapolis in advanced manufacturing and technology “to create the most advanced engine manufacturing site in the U.S.”

General Electric’s bids included its CF34-10 and Passport engines. Pratt & Whitney, a unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp., offered its PW800.

Most recently, B-52s were deployed to provide air cover for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan -- bookending the Pentagon’s 20-year war in that country. B-52s directed by U.S. special operations forces using laser-designators and GPS dropped precision-guided bombs on the Taliban during the early weeks of the Afghanistan invasion.
 

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Wonder what went on at Prat, GE and the Pentagon so that RR got the deal?

Somehow reminds me of the on-going cluster effort surrounding the USAF's KC-46 tanker and Boing Vs Airbus. Boeing should have had a technological lock on that. . .and the inside track with USAF.

The B-52 has needed a power plant upgrade for forty years, so its about time. Back in the 1980s, author Dale Brown wrote several Tom Clancy-ish novels suggesting a total re-wing of the B-52 with Carbon Fiber and huge Turbo-Fan engines (well it is fiction . ..right?)
 

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heck, Boeing should have had a tentative project already on the books for a tanker replacement for the current taker. Its not a whole new plane, just wings and plumbing right?

No, I am not n engineer or project manager . . . ., and yes, I am sure it is not quite that simple. Its just that smart people should have seen this need coming and been ready for it.
 

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Hijacj notice:

While we are off topic on the B-52, has anyone seen the renderings for a SOCOM requested C-130 sea plane?

Has two huge floats attached and hanging from the landing gear bulges ("sponsoons") Looks like it would only work on lake-smooth water.
 

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Why so much love for the B-52 and hatred of the A-10 by the Air Force bosses?
The B52 has always had a strategic mission and there are no current substitutes for its strategic capabilities.

The A10 has always had a tactical mission and I guess the USAF feels there are more modern substitutes for its tactical capabilities.

That’s my impression.

Fwiw: Russia is still operating their old Cold War strategic bomber as well (periodically upgraded):
 

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The A10 has always been that goofy cousin that nobody wants around until a bar fight breaks out. Then he is Hercules….Savin the day
Ain't nobody you'd rather have your back in a bar fight than ol' cousin Pumbaa...

 

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Looks like the great grand children of the original B52 crews will get to fly the same air planes their great grand fathers flew. It's interesting that the Air Force wants to keep these old birds while dumping more resent aircraft they think are obsolete, A10, F15, and F16 come to mind.
 

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Sounds a lot like George Washington's axe.

The head has been changed twice and the handle three times, but we're still calling it George Washington's axe. 🤪
The airframes are still the airframes. Really, the only thing that has been changed in the H models over the years is the avionics. In fact, this re-engining will be one of the first major upgrades that is not on the electronics side of the house.

The thing is when the B52 was designed there was no such thing as stress modeling and stress optimization. So, some aircraft were massively over-designed and had fatigue lives well in excess of initially calculated (the B-52 and KC-135), and some had fatigue lives that were not extendable (C-141s an A-6).

So, no, the B-52 is not Washington's axe or the ship of Theseus, the head is the same, and the handle has been sanded and repainted a few times, but it is basically the same item.

Why so much love for the B-52 and hatred of the A-10 by the Air Force bosses?
A few reasons . . .

1) As noted above for the C-141 and A-6, the fatigue life of the A-10 airframe was pretty much calculated correctly, and the aircraft are starting to reach it, so more invasive and expensive repairs are required such as new wings and other rebuilds of aircraft structure. These are expensive, almost as expensive as building a new airframe.

2) There are other aircraft that are capable of performing the A-10's mission, in fact, there is nothing a A-10 can do that an F/A-18E, AV-8B, or an F-35 can't do as well, and these aircraft can do other missions the A-10 can't, so with a limited number of total aircraft in the inventory, it makes more sense to have multi-role aircraft.

3) Survivability. The A-10 is more likely to become damaged due to enemy ground fire that other faster aircraft. Yes the design is very robust and can absorb hits without falling out of the sky, but honestly, what good is it if you have to spend three weeks repairing and airplane after every sortie?

The A-10 is the equivalent of the Ju-87 in 1943, in need of something newer to take its place.
 
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