The U.S. Air Force recently completed nearly a year-long renovation on a B-52H bomber, which re-entered service with the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., earlier this month.
While the B-52H dubbed “Wise Guy” had been in storage at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., “boneyard” since 2008, the U.S. Air Force embarked on an effort in 2019 to resurrect the bomber to replace a Buff lost during take-off in 2016.
Last April, “Wise Guy” went to the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex for programmed depot maintenance (PDM), per Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC).
“During PDM, Wise Guy presented the team with two main challenges: electrical wiring projects and main landing gear structural defects,” AFMC said.
The Air Force returned another B-52H–dubbed “Ghost Rider”–to service in 2015, and the two renovations of “Ghost Rider” and “Wise Guy” bring the number of B-52s “mandated by Congress to full strength at 76 total aircraft,” per AFMC.
The Air Force has undertaken a number of modernization initiatives to keep its fleet of Boeing [BA] B-52Hs bombers flying to 2040 and beyond, including the Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP), a radar modernization program (RMP), and communications upgrades (Defense Daily, Aug. 31, 2020). In addition, the Air Force envisions new strike capabilities for the Buff, including the carriage of hypersonic missiles and the Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) cruise missile.
CERP appears to be the top Air Force modernization priority for the B-52H.
The winning engine developer will build 608 new commercial engines, plus provide additional spare engines and other support equipment and data over a 17-year performance period. That includes one six-year basic period, one five-year option period and six one-year options, currently slated for fiscal year 2021 through FY 2035.
Pratt & Whitney [RTX], Rolls-Royce and GE Aviation [GE] are vying for the contract expected in the second half of this year. Pratt & Whitney is pitching its PW815 engine to replace the current P&W-made TF33-PW-103s on board the aircraft.
The winner will deliver 16-64 engines initially for integration onto prototype aircraft.