Boeing Wins $750M to Support the B-52H Fleet
In June 2009, the US Air Force is replaced Boeing’s existing fleet support contract for the USA’s B-52 heavy bomber fleet, with a 10-year, $750 million firm-fixed-price Engineering Sustainment Program (ESP) contract. All of the USAF’s 94 remaining B-52Hs were built at and delivered from Boeing’s Wichita, KS facility, and the ESP contract will support about 150 Boeing jobs.
Under the ESP contract, Boeing employees in Wichita, KS; Oklahoma City, OK; and at Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, LA will maintain the fleet’s readiness, handle and maintain the aircrafts’ engineering data, conduct related analyses and tests, investigate deficiencies or field issues, provide in-flight emergency response support, and perform required hardware and software modernization and upgrade work. Unfortunately, key upgrades like fleet replacing the ancient JT3D/TF33 turbofans to improve fuel consumption, maintenance, and efficiency have failed to materialize over the years. Nevertheless…
Despite its poor fuel economy, the B-52 fleet’s availability, long time on station, and large bomb loads of precision weapons have allowed it to retain a prominent role in modern low-intensity conflicts. Modifications and upgrades continue, in order to keep the B-52s relevant and effective within lower and mid-tier threat environments.
The aircraft are still believed to have many flight hours left, but aging aircraft issues can be sudden, and no level of maintenance work or clairvoyance can be assured of predicting them.
If the beginning of the current maintenance contract is compared with the B-52 roll-out ceremony in 1954, an equivalent period backward in time from that induction would land you in 1899 – 4 years before the Wright Brothers’ first flight.
For a more direct comparison, the period of time between the in-service induction of the current B-52H Stratofortress variant in 1961, and the beginning of the current maintenance contract, is longer than the time period between the first B-17 Flying Fortress prototype aircraft flight in 1935, and the B-52H’s service induction. By the end of this ESP contract, the equivalent period backward from the B-52H’s induction will take you back to 1902, a year before the Kitty Hawk flights.
Contracts and Key Events
Dec 24/09: Boeing in Wichita Falls, KS receives a $750 million firm-fixed-price contract for the B-52 Engineering Sustainment Program. This appears to be a recap of the June 29/09 award. At this time, $22 million has been committed by the 327th ACSG/PK at Tinker Air Force Base, OK (FA8107-09-D-0001).
A Jan 13/09 Boeing release refers to this $22 million award as the first option year of the ESP contract, which includes a total of 9 annual options.
June 29/09: Boeing in Wichita, KS receives a $750 million follow on to their B-52 fleet support contract. They will provide recurring and non-recurring engineering services, including drawing and technical data maintenance, systems engineering support, technical analyses, government furnished property maintenance, detailed design engineering system and subsystem integration, hardware and software support, technical order updates, flight safety analyses, reliability and maintainability analyses, ground and flight test support, engineering feasibility studies, material deficiency report analysis, field problem investigation, and in-flight emergency response.
At this time, $9.6 million has been committed by the managing 327th Aircraft Sustainment Group Contracting Division at Tinker Air Force Base, OK (FA8107-09-D-0001). See also Boeing release.