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US B-52s getting new wheels, carbon brakes

Photo: US Air Force

The US Air Force has selected Collins Aerospace to design and develop a new wheel and carbon brake for its B-52 Stratofortress bombers as it prepares to extend the operational service life of the aircraft into the 2050s.

The entire bomber fleet will be receiving the new wheels and brakes, according to the company.

Collins Aerospace said it would design the systems for the B-52H using its carbon heat sink material that will allow the Stratofortress to conduct more landings per overhaul, helping to reduce maintenance time and cost while increasing aircraft availability. The company’s Duracarb technology has the ability to handle higher thermal energy loads during braking will also increase the safety margin when stopping heavily-loaded B-52s.

“Since the first Stratofortress variant took flight in the 1950s, Collins Aerospace has been onboard,” said Ajay Mahajan, vice president, Landing Systems for Collins Aerospace. “Our world-class engineers will develop a solution that offers seamless technology insertion to help sustain the B-52 as it continues flying for another three decades.”

Collins currently supplies a number of systems for the B-52, including generators, communication and navigation systems, environmental control systems, engine systems and sensors.

One of the costlier upgrades that will be necessary for the Stratofortress to remain in service into the 2050s is the re-engining program, a process that the air force estimates will take 17 years to complete. A total of 608 engines are to be acquired for the 76 B-52s under the Commercial Engine Replacement Program (CERP), with Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce and General Electric expected to compete for the mega deal.