End of The Smoke Trail

The Air Force expects to have industry input in hand by “this summer” for re-engining the B-52H bomber fleet in the near future, according to Air Force Global Strike Command boss Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson. In preliminary discussions “almost every industry engine partner has come forward and said they can give us a 35 percent more fuel-efficient engine,” said Wilson at an AFA-sponsored talk on Capitol Hill on April 21. “What that means is that I can get about 35 percent more range out of the B-52,” which already boasts substantial reach, he said. An added bonus is that a more fuel-efficient B-52 would “use about a third less” tanker support, said Wilson, allowing high-demand tankers to reallocate to support other missions. He said initial analysis points to a one-for-one engine swapout, thus keeping the B-52’s eight-engine configuration instead of moving to four turbofans. “We’d have to do less modification to other parts of the B-52 to keep an eight-engine variant, so we are moving forward” under that design assumption, he said.