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B-52 Re-engine Resurfaces As USAF Reviews Studies

LowObservable

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Re. the discussion as to whether the eight-engine solution was or was not chosen because of the engine-out case - I believe that it certainly was a factor. But a lot of people overlook another issue: there are three candidate engines for an eight-engine layout, but since the last time re-engining was studied, the two engines that would work for a four-engine B-52 (RB211-535 and PW2000) have ceased production.
LO,

Back in 2005 we discussed this often amongst the crew dogs. The original proposal was for 4 RB211-535's, engine out had them looking at other options like CFM-56's on the outboard pods, but two engine types on the same airframe doesn't help the cost argument. Ultimately, the final nail in the coffin for the 4 engine proposals was low oil prices in the late 90's early 2000's and all of the spare TF-33's taken from C-141's and KC-135E's. They could mod the tail and rudder to address the engine out, but that also cut against the cost savings argument. Your points for today's proposal are spot on, the other thing I suspect is they've finally worked their way through the inventory of C-141/KC-135E spares.

FWIW, Boeing Wichita has a model of the 4 engine BUFF hanging from the ceiling down in the B-52 area, we saw it every time we went there.
Right. I heard that story too. But the DSB reviewed the USAF study and found that they had done the assessment based on commercial gas prices. Tanker gas costs a little more...
 

marauder2048

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Except the USAF has adopted commercial fuel (Jet A) and DSB came up with a fully burdened fuel cost for aerial refueling
that's some 45% higher than any other study published in the intervening ~ 20 years.
 

mkellytx

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Re. the discussion as to whether the eight-engine solution was or was not chosen because of the engine-out case - I believe that it certainly was a factor. But a lot of people overlook another issue: there are three candidate engines for an eight-engine layout, but since the last time re-engining was studied, the two engines that would work for a four-engine B-52 (RB211-535 and PW2000) have ceased production.
LO,

Back in 2005 we discussed this often amongst the crew dogs. The original proposal was for 4 RB211-535's, engine out had them looking at other options like CFM-56's on the outboard pods, but two engine types on the same airframe doesn't help the cost argument. Ultimately, the final nail in the coffin for the 4 engine proposals was low oil prices in the late 90's early 2000's and all of the spare TF-33's taken from C-141's and KC-135E's. They could mod the tail and rudder to address the engine out, but that also cut against the cost savings argument. Your points for today's proposal are spot on, the other thing I suspect is they've finally worked their way through the inventory of C-141/KC-135E spares.

FWIW, Boeing Wichita has a model of the 4 engine BUFF hanging from the ceiling down in the B-52 area, we saw it every time we went there.
Right. I heard that story too. But the DSB reviewed the USAF study and found that they had done the assessment based on commercial gas prices. Tanker gas costs a little more...
Right, tanker gas is just a multiple of commercial gas, I've sat on both ends of the boom. Big reductions, of the need of commercial gas greatly reduce the need for tanker gas as well and the multiple works in your favor. Also, when tanker gas is a must, cost is less of a concern, in other words, if the mission is that important, cost is a secondary concern.

At the end of the day it's the lifecycle costs that are supposed to tip the balance. When there are hundreds of spares sitting in crates, that undermines the case for a new engine. Now that they're all gone and the Strat Radar and other mod's are funded a new engine is suddenly "cost effective".
 

TomcatViP

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bobbymike

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FighterJock

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So General Electric wants to keep the B-52's flying until about 2097? Looks like the USAF does not want to give up its BUFF's anytime soon in favour of a replacement bomber.
 

gtg947h

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So General Electric wants to keep the B-52's flying until about 2097? Looks like the USAF does not want to give up its BUFF's anytime soon in favour of a replacement bomber.
More like they don’t have/can’t get the budget to come up with an all-new replacement right now...
 

uk 75

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From discussions on various threads it seems that designing and building a modern B52 or converting a civil widebody would be less cost effective than keeping the tried and tested Buffs flying. Bit like an old wooden ship of the line. Re-engining ought to be a way of doing this.
 

bobbymike

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So General Electric wants to keep the B-52's flying until about 2097? Looks like the USAF does not want to give up its BUFF's anytime soon in favour of a replacement bomber.
More like they don’t have/can’t get the budget to come up with an all-new replacement right now...
If kept up to date, electronics/avionics/weapons, is there anything a non-stealthy clean sheet design could do “substantially” better than the B-52?
 

gtg947h

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So General Electric wants to keep the B-52's flying until about 2097? Looks like the USAF does not want to give up its BUFF's anytime soon in favour of a replacement bomber.
More like they don’t have/can’t get the budget to come up with an all-new replacement right now...
If kept up to date, electronics/avionics/weapons, is there anything a non-stealthy clean sheet design could do “substantially” better than the B-52?
IMHO that’s pretty much it... a clean-sheet non-stealthy “bomb truck” might well be more efficient, easier to support, more easily deployed, and everyone likes new shiny stuff, but the up-front cost is a whole lot higher compared to upgrades on the B-52 fleet. As I understand it the airframe is pretty robust and relatively low-time so they aren’t aging/cracking out like other aircraft in the inventory.

It’s sort of like continuing to drive your paid-for older truck or SUV, even though it’s less efficient, because the capital outlay for a new more-efficient vehicle would exceed the savings on fuel.
 

shin_getter

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If kept up to date, electronics/avionics/weapons, is there anything a non-stealthy clean sheet design could do “substantially” better than the B-52?
It can be a C-17? ;)

In that it can do other jobs while having fleet commonality. With the exact shape of future conflict being uncertain, multirole is a good thing.
 

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