Two U.S. Army AH-64E Apache helicopters assigned to 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division fly overhead during a combined arms live-fire exercise at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., April 5. The CALFEX brought together aircraft from 16th CAB and Strykers and Soldiers from 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division to exercise coordinated attacks.
General Electric [GE] and Advanced Turbine Engine Company (ATEC), a joint Honeywell [HON] and Pratt & Whitney venture, have both submitted the second and final proposals for the next phase of the Army’s program to find new engines for its Apache and Black Hawk helicopters.
The Army is expected to make a downselect decision by the end of year between GE’s T901 and ATEC’s T900 engine offerings to move to the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of its Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP).
Following the scheduled contract decision in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019, the Army is expected to move to low-rate production of the new helicopter engines in 2024, according to ATEC.
GE, whose engines are currently on both the Apaches and Black Hawks, is competing against ATEC to deliver the Army a lower cost, more durable, fuel efficient offering for its helicopters.
"Using GE's industry leading technologies, rather than mechanical complexity, to meet ITEP requirements enables the use of a single-spool design, making the T901 engine less complex, less expensive, and lighter weight," Ron Hutter, executive director of GE’s T901 program, said in a statement. "The T901's single-spool core enables full modularity, building on the success of the combat proven T700 and providing the Army superior fix-forward maintainability, reduced life-cycle costs and improved Warfighter readiness."
Army officials completed their preliminary design review of GE’s T901 in June. GE first received a $102 million technology maturation contract for the engine in September 2016.
ATEC is also offering a dual-spool engine, which company officials say will allow Army helicopters to travel longer distances with heavier payloads and eliminate the needs for refueling stops in adverse environments.
“Army aviators are going to love this engine. “This engine will provide superior system responsiveness to pilot commands, resulting in immediate and precise power setting changes and ease of operation,” Craig Madden, president of ATEC, said in a statement. “This will reduce pilot workload and allow aviators to focus on the mission, not the aircraft. ATEC’s T900 architecture meets or exceeds Army requirements using current, state-of-the-art materials, without the pilot or maintainer having to be concerned about unproven materials that are not yet ready for production and field use.”
Both companies submitted their ITEP phase I proposals in February.
The phase II proposals focus on the technical capabilities of each engine offering.