LONDON – Rolls-Royce has begun testing its F130 engine, which have been chosen by the United States Air Force (USAF) as a replacement for their B-52 bomber fleet’s older powerplants.
The F130 was selected as a replacement under the B-52 modernization program back in 2021, following a competitive selection process. The F130 is expected to be seen with over 600 engine deliveries once the engines are ready and certified.
Test phase initiated
Rolls-Royce has a fair share in the world’s airplane engines, amongst the most known being the TRENT-series and the Rolls-Royce RB211, which is notoriously known for powering the Boeing 747 and 757 aircraft.
However, the United States Air Force (USAF) has chosen Rolls-Royce F130 engines as a replacement for its B-52 bomber fleet, as the aircraft is set to see a modernization across the entire fleet within the Air Force.
The test phase for the F130 engines has now initiated, and is taking place at the company’s outdoor test facility at the NASA Stennis Space Center in the state of Mississippi.
Unlike the older and current engines on the B-52 aircraft, the F130 is to be tested in a dual-pod configuration, leaving a total of eight engines across four pods.
The tests being conducted will focus on crosswind aerodynamic flow, as well as confirming the successful operation of the engine’s digital control systems. The current results are showing demonstrating themselves as positive, with additional test data set to be analyzed over the next months.
Rolls-Royce and the United States Air Force along with Boeing are in close collaboration on this program and test stage. Both the US Air Force and Boeing will manage the overall engine integration for the B-52, as well as the modernization itself.
Candice Bineyard, Director of Programs – Defence, stated the following: “We are excited to begin this milestone testing program, the first step for what will be decades of successful engine operation for the United States Air Force B-52 fleet.”
“Rolls-Royce continues to work very closely with the Air Force and Boeing to ensure the engine testing and integration process run smoothly.”
“This will result in higher fuel efficiency, reduced air refueling requirements, and significantly lower maintenance costs for the B-52 fleet. We look forward to sharing test results with the Air Force and Boeing as the test plan progresses at the NASA Stennis Space Center.”
Rolls-Royce’s hydrogen engine achievement
The F130 is not the only big news from Rolls-Royce in the past twelve months. Together with EasyJet, the manufacturer confirmed that they have set a new aviation milestone with the run of the world’s first hydrogen-powered aero engine back in December 2022.
The engine test was conducted on an early concept demonstrator using green hydrogen created by tidal and wind power.
It marks a major step towards proving that hydrogen could in fact be a viable alternative for kerosine and a contester in the zero carbon aviation fuels alternatives.
Green hydrogen for the tests was supplied by EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre), generated using renewable energy at their hydrogen production and tidal test facility on Eday in the Orkney Islands, UK.
On this achievement, Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer, Rolls-Royce, said: “The success of this hydrogen test is an exciting milestone.”
“We only announced our partnership with easyJet in July and we are already off to an incredible start with this landmark achievement.”
“We are pushing the boundaries to discover the zero carbon possibilities of hydrogen, which could help reshape the future of flight.”