The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex (OC-ALC) at Tinker AFB, Okla., will need more space to help accomplish the re-engining of the B-52H, per U.S. Air Force fiscal 2023 budget documents.

Last September, the Air Force awarded Rolls-Royce a contract worth potentially $2.6 billion through fiscal 2038 for the re-engining of the Boeing [BA] B-52 bomber with the F130 engine, based on Rolls-Royce’s commercial BR725 carried on Gulfstream [GD] G650 business jets (Defense Daily, Sept. 24, 2021).

The first re-engined B-52 is to come off the line in 2028, while the last is expected in 2035. In addition to the engine, the contract will update the B-52’s flight deck area, struts and nacelles.

On Apr. 12, Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems [SPR] said that Boeing had awarded Spirit a contract to provide the engine pylons and nacelles for the initial phase of CERP.

To accompany a ramp expansion at Tinker to support B-52H modernization, including the re-engining, the Air Force said it has allocated $6 million for temporary fabric hangars for the B-52H as part of weapon systems support (WSS).

“If facilities are not properly maintained or modernized based upon required depot workload, there will be work stoppages along with safety and security issues which affects weapon system availability,” per the working capital fund section of the Air Force fiscal 2023 budget request. “The minor construction that is required for new equipment setup will not be in place, thus severely impacting the depots’ ability to efficiently provide repair services and meet warfighter requirements.”

“The B-52 fleet will undergo a major modernization effort in conjunction with PDM (programmed depot maintenance) starting in FY25 requiring additional dock space at OC-ALC,” the fiscal 2023 Air Force working capital fund request said. “Current dock and ramp constraints are inadequate to support B-52 modernization efforts stressing the need for an expansion of the ramp (minor construction) and the procurement of temporary fabric hangars (WSS).”

The initial B-52 re-engining contract has an estimated value of nearly $501 million over six years. Rolls-Royce is to build the engines in Indianapolis. The company said that it had invested $600 million in Indiana technology and advanced manufacturing programs, including the plant in Indianapolis.

The B-52 re-engining win was a significant one for Rolls-Royce, as Pratt & Whitney [RTX] was the incumbent, having built the B-52’s TF33-PW-103 engines, which the Air Force expects to retire by 2030. For the Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP), the Air Force wanted a new, commercial B-52 engine up to 30 percent more fuel efficient than the TF33.

CERP has been the top Air Force modernization priority for the B-52H.

Air Force plans have called for the winning engine developer to build 608 new commercial engines, plus provide additional spare engines and other support equipment and data over a 17-year performance period. That was for one six-year basic period, one five-year option period and six one-year options, previously slated for fiscal year 2021 through FY 2035.

For the CERP award, Pratt & Whitney pitched its PW815 engine, which powers the Gulfstream G600 business jet. GE Aviation [GE] offered two engines–the CF34-10, aboard Bombardier CRJ series airliners, and the Passport 20, carried on Bombardier’s Global 7500 business jets.

Lawmakers are concerned by spiraling B-52 CERP costs. The Biden administration opposed a requirement in the House’s fiscal 2022 defense authorization bill that would have required the Pentagon to set fiscal 2018 as the cost baseline year and to submit a report on costs before expending fiscal 2022 funds for the program (Defense Daily, Sept. 22).

The conference bill, which President Biden signed into law last December, moves toward the administration position by setting fiscal 2020 as the CERP cost baseline year and by lightening the HASC-proposed cost reporting requirement.

The law provides that “not more than 75 percent” of fiscal 2022 CERP funds “may be obligated or expended until the date on which the secretary of defense submits to the congressional defense committees the [cost] report.”