An expanded view of the GE Aviation T901 engine. (GE Photo)
General Electric has prevailed in its bid to develop a drop-in replacement engine for the U.S. Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache helicopters with a half-billion-dollar engineering contract announced Feb. 1.
The $517 million contract covers the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP), which seeks an engine that is 50 percent more powerful, 25 percent more fuel efficient, and lasts 20 percent longer than current engines.
GE’s single-spool T901 engine beat out the dual-spool T900 offered by the Advanced Turbine Engine Company, a joint venture between Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney. GE will perform the work in Lynn, Massachusetts, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 1, 2024.
“We are honored to be chosen by the Army to continue powering their Black Hawks and Apaches for decades to come,” Tony Mathis, president and chief executive of GE Aviation’s military business, said in a prepared statement. “We’ve invested in the resources and infrastructure to execute immediately, and our team is ready to get to work on delivering the improved capabilities of the T901 to the Warfighter.”
In winning the EMD contract, GE holds on to its incumbency building the T700 engine that currently powers both helicopters. Those engines have amassed more than 100 million flight hours in service with the Army, according to GE.
GE has invested $9 billion in maturing technologies applicable to the T901 and more than $300 million to develop and test turboshaft-specific technologies. The company invested another $10 billion in its supply chain over the past decade, including eight new facilities, ten plant expansions and one-and-a-half million square feet of new manufacturing space in the U.S.
ATEC officials touted its dual-spool technology as common to many fixed-wing aircraft, citing advantages including increased power and fuel efficiency.
Dual-spool core architecture has been around since the 1940s and can improve engine performance. Many engine manufacturers, including GE, use the design in larger engines for fixed-wing applications.
“We were disappointed to learn that the U.S. Army did not select our offering, the dual-spool T900,” ATEC President Craig Madden said in a statement Feb. 1. “We believe that we offered the most advanced, capable and lowest risk engine for ITEP for the Army to improve the overall performance of its Apache and Black Hawk fleets.”
For GE, the initial EMD phase likely will feed into multiple billions of dollars in production work for the Black Hawk, Apache and future Army aircraft.
The Army intends to field ITEP on its Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) as well.
In a broad agency announcement Oct. 3, the Army said it intends to provide ITEP engines as government-furnished property to meet the FARA competitive prototype schedule. However, the offeror should address the impact of non-availability of the ITEP engine and substitution of a T700-GE-701D as a temporary surrogate on the FARA CP build and flight test.