Rolls-Royce has announced the commencement of F130 engine testing as part of the US Air Force’s (USAF) B-52 modernisation programme.

The tests are currently underway at the company’s Outdoor Jet Engine Test Facility at Nasa John C Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Mississippi, US.

Rolls-Royce said that the latest development also marks the first time that a B-52 aircraft’s F130 engines are being tested in the dual-pod engine configuration.

Each B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft features eight engines in four different pods.

As part of the new test initiative, the company will focus on the crosswind aerodynamic flow of the engines and ensure that the engine’s digital controls system is operating properly.

The company claimed that some tests performed in the early stages have already yielded positive results.

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The current test series will further provide additional data to Rolls-Royce that will be analysed in the next several months.

Rolls-Royce Programmes – Defence director Candice Bineyard said: “We are excited to begin this milestone testing programme, the first step for what will be decades of successful engine operation for the USAF B-52 fleet.”

The company is under contract, which was awarded in 2021, to replace the bomber fleet’s existing engines with more than 600 new F130 engines.

Rolls-Royce is performing the associated work in close coordination with the USAF and aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which is also handling engine integration under this programme.

Bineyard added: “This will result in higher fuel efficiency, reduced air refuelling requirements, and significantly lower maintenance costs for the B-52 fleet.”

Once equipped, the new engines are projected to extend the service life of the B-52 fleet for another three decades.

Rolls-Royce said its F130 engines are durable replacements for B-52s, as they will remain on the aircraft’s wings for its remaining service life.