It is estimated that the 70 B-52 Stratofortress bombers in service may fly another 20 to 30 years or more. The Pentagon has been looking at proposals for new B-52 engines for years but has never actually added them to the budget.

Vice Chief of Staff General Stephen Wilson said Tuesday that it “makes great sense” to replace the aging engines in response to questions at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

Proposals for replacing the eight Pratt & Whitney TF33 engines on the B-52s, which burn about 3,000 gallons of fuel an hour, have been around the Pentagon for years. Replacement “makes great sense,” Wilson said. “If we had it in our budget, we’d buy it, but we don’t have it.”

Despite the budget problem, the Air Force has sent out requests for information (RFI) to engine manufacturers about coming up with replacements for the TF33 engines.

Wilson said an Air Force team is exploring the possibility of “third-party financing.”

Two years ago, Lt. Gen. Mike Holmes, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, described third-party financing for Defense News: “The idea is in a public-private partnership, somebody funds the engine and then we pay them back over time out of the fuel savings, which are generated out of the new engines.” – DefenseTech

The B-52 is supposed to be replaced by the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider bomber but there is no specific date set for this to take place.

Fighter Sweep posted a month ago about a B-52 that had one of its engines fall off in flight.

B-52D Dropping Bombs Over Vietnam. Photo by US Air Force

Featured image of a U.S. Air Force inspector observing members of a combat logistics support squadron as they replace a damaged Pratt & Whitney J57 engine of a Boeing B-52D Stratofortress bomber during exercise “Night Train/Global Shield ’84” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona (USA), on 2 April 1984. The crew is wearing nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) gear. Photo by US Air Force