Exploring the Aerial Mastery of B-52s: 16 Captivating Photographs

The B-52 Bomber, designed in the 1950s, is crucial for maintaining its airborne capabilities despite its age. With prompt engineering upgrades, the venerable B-52 Stratofortress could continue in service for many years.

Here are the latest features of the B-52 and 16 amazing photos illustrating its resilience:

Terror shock has struck most anyone in recent weeks who has faced up to their car’s gas tank or walked the aisles of a grocery store. Inflation continues to drive up prices for everyday items to durable goods. Similarly, most Americans are having to do more with less.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military faces some sticker shock of its own.

According to Air Force Magazine, the cost of upgrades to the B-52 Stratofortress is significantly higher than what some U.S. Air Force officials expected. The cost of re-engineering, which is needed to keep the aging Cold War-era bombers in service through the 2050s, has reportedly increased by 50% – and it is not just because materials cost more.

Air Force acquisition executive Andrew P. Hunter acknowledged the B-52 Commercial Engine Replacement Program’s price hike in testimony to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.

“We currently believe there is cost growth from our original work that we did originally through the middle-tier acquisition program to what we anticipated we’ll be looking at [in] Milestone B,” Hunter said, referring to the stage at which a project’s readiness to enter the engineering and manufacturing development phase is evaluated.

Rolls-Royce of Engines

The Air Force announced last September that Rolls-Royce had been awarded a $2.6 billion Commercial Engine Replacement Program contract to keep the B-52s flying and in service. The new engines were selected to replace Pratt & Whitney-made TF33 engines, which date back to the early 1960s. The F130 is a tested and proven engine, and the platform has accumulated more than 27 million engine flight hours.

“The F130 is the perfect fit for the B-52 with proven reliability, support lifecycle cost, and low integration risk,” the engine’s manufacturer stated when it was awarded the contract. “A variant of the Rolls-Royce engine selected to power the iconic B-52 is already in service with the USAF around the world, powering both the C-37 and E-11 BACN aircraft.”

Rolls-Royce also announced it would use state-of-the-art digital engineering tools to determine how to incorporate the engines with the bombers. The company has already made digital models of the missile bomber fleet, thus allowing engineers to map models of the new engines and figure out where to place new components.

Not So Low Integration Costs

Hunter told the House Committee that cost increases have more to do with integrating the engines onto the B-52s, which is a Boeing effort. It has less to do with the engines themselves, which will be built by Rolls-Royce.

“I want to emphasize that a lot of that engineering work is actually inside the airplane, on the support structure to which the engines attach, versus the engine itself, which is largely a commercial engine that already exists,” Hunter said, adding that the engine needs only “a modest number of modifications.”

A B-52H from the 2nd Bomb Wing departs after refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Afghanistan.

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., approaches the flight line at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin, Australia, April 6, 2018. Two U.S. Air Force bomber units visited the base in Australia’s Northern Territory to support the U.S. Pacific Command’s Enhanced Air Cooperation initiative in coordination with RAAF joint terminal attack controllers.

A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress of the 2nd Bomb Wing static display with weapons, at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., in 2006.

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