B-52 Re-Engining

Global Strike Command chief Gen. Robin Rand says he will “continue to advocate” for re-engining the B-52 bomber. “We have some money to look at that,” Rand told reporters at AWS17, though the funding is only enough for “feasibility analysis.” Rand said he wants new engines on the airplane “not for safety reasons” but because new powerplants would need less maintenance—saving on maintainers badly needed elsewhere—as well as reducing fuel consumption, and extending range, meaning Air Mobility Command could put some of its bomber-supporting tankers to use on other missions. New engines would also require fewer spare parts and spend more time on-wing, meaning more availability of the jets for action, Rand said. “There are about four or five good reasons” to do it, Rand said, but it would require the approval of Congress to use “creative” financing schemes to get the engines, he said. Those include a possible lease if USAF opted to do the program, but not buy the equipment outright. Rand later told Air Force Magazine that the ballpark price of a B-52 re-engining would be about $7 billion, assuming eight engines on each of the jets in the fleet. But “all dollars are in competition” with other worthy projects, Rand said. Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Steven Wilson, himself former head of AFGSC, has been a big proponent of B-52 re-engining “and still is,” Rand said.