The U.S. Air Force on Sept. 24 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.

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.

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

The B-52 re-engining win is a significant one for Rolls Royce, as Pratt & Whitney [RXT] was the incumbent, having built the B-52’s TF33-PW-103 engines. 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.

“The F130 and its commercial family of engines have accumulated more than 27 million engine flight hours,” Rolls Royce said on Sept. 24 after the contract announcement. “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.”

The Air Force propulsion directorate has estimated that the TF33-PW-103 will be unsustainable by 2030.

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 is opposing a requirement in the House’s fiscal 2022 defense authorization bill that would require the Pentagon to submit a report on such costs before expending fiscal 2022 funds for the program (Defense Daily, Sept. 22).