The ITEP engine is to power U.S. Army Black Hawks like this one, Apaches, and FARA helicopters. (Lockheed Martin photo)
The U.S. Government Accountability Office on May 30 denied the Advanced Turbine Engine Company's (ATEC) protest of the Army's selection of the General Electric T901 engine for the Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP).
GAO had not listed the decision on its web site at press time on May 30, but GE and ATEC confirmed the denial.
ITEP is likely worth billions of dollars as the engine is to power the next generation of Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks and Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters, as well as variants of the Army Future Vertical Lift program, including the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA).
GE said it expects "the stop work order on the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of ITEP to be lifted shortly, and GE's team is ready to execute immediately."
"GE Aviation is committed to accelerating the T901 EMD schedule ahead of the Army's baseline plan to support an earlier fielding in Apaches and Black Hawks, in addition to supporting the FARA program," the company said.
ATEC on Feb. 19 lodged a protest with GAO of the Army's decision to award GE a $517 million EMD contract for the T901.
ATEC, a joint venture between Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney, said on May 30 that it has asked Congress to allow both the GE and the ATEC engine to enter the EMD phase.
"The GAO findings notwithstanding, a procurement this crucial should never be made based on paper proposals," Craig Madden, the president of ATEC, said on May 30. "Indeed, it is customary for the Pentagon to thoroughly test competing engines before making a final down select. Testing provides clear, unequivocal evidence of engine capabilities that cannot be obtained through a proposal. Therefore, we have recommended that Congress provide the funding to allow the Army to take both engines further into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase of the procurement before making a final selection."
After the ATEC bid protest in February, Madden said his company "clearly offered the best value through a combination of a highly rated and technically superior engine that was judged to be much lower risk, and believe we did so significantly under the government's budget."
ITEP seeks an engine that is 50 percent more powerful, 25 percent more fuel efficient, and lasts 20 percent longer than the current Black Hawk and Apache T700 engines by GE -- engines that GE said have run more than 100 million flight hours with the Army.
In the competition, GE’s single-spool T901 engine beat out the dual-spool T900 offered by ATEC.
Tony Mathis, president of GE Aviation's military business, said on May 30 that GE had "spent the last 12 years developing the T901 engine, including successful completion of the Advanced Affordable Turbine Engine program, a Technology Maturation & Risk Reduction contract, and three full engine tests."
GE is to perform the ITEP work in Lynn, Massachusetts, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 1, 2024.