Boeing has submitted a revised bid to re-engine the US Air Force's B-52 bomber fleet after its original submission was rejected as "not cost-effective" by an Office of the Secretary of Defense report on 15 April.

Despite the blow, Boeing is confident that the initiative is alive, and predicts that it could still be on contract as early as October if the revised plan is adopted.

The scheme involves re-engineing up to 71 B-52s with Rolls-Royce RB.211-535 turbofans, assembled by Allison in the USA, as well as adding AlliedSignal auxiliary-power units and other related changes.

Air Force secretary Sheila Widnall says: "We haven't given up the idea, but our first look indicated that it was not cost-effective. We need to go back and understand the constraints."

Boeing B-52 re-engineing-programme acquisition manager Roger Power says that the plan "-is very much alive, and it could even happen this year". The initial proposal stumbled mainly because "-the USAF did not understand the life-cycle costs".

The Boeing submission predicted savings of $6-$7 billion over the costs of maintaining the Pratt & Whitney TF33-powered fleet, whereas the USAF's predicted an increase in costs of up to $2 billion - a discrepancy of $9 billion.

According to Power, the two sets of estimates were different because the US Department of Defense's life-cycle-cost model was based on traditional defence-department methodology rather than on Boeing's commercial approach.

While arguing that the Pentagon should pursue more commercial estimates in future, if it "-wants to embrace acquisition reform", Boeing has agreed to compromise on a less-optimistic cost saving of around $4.7 billion.

The revised plan shows savings to the USAF of around $800,000 a year by 2030.

Source: Flight International