US Army Completes First Tests of New Engine for Apache and Black Hawk Helicopters

The US Army has successfully completed the first round of testing of its T901 Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) engine which will now be used in AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, according to a statement released Thursday.

Over 100 hours of battery life

The T901 ITEP engine was built by General Electric in February 2019. The company secured a $517 million prize to develop it, beating Advanced Turbine Engine Company – a Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney team. Intercompany completion for the engine was a decade-old ordeal. The result was a significantly more powerful engine.

According to initial reports, the motors delivered by GE are working well. “On June 28, the Army’s Aviation Turbine Engine Project (ATE) ITEP concluded the First Engine Under Test (FETT) of the very first GE-built T901 engine for the Army’s aviation. ‘army,” the army said in its statement. “FETT’s initial shutdown took place on March 22 and testing spanned over 100 runtime hours. The event successfully verified and validated performance models on the aircraft’s next-generation rotorcraft engine. army that will power the Boeing AH-64 Apache, Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA),” according to the service branch.

The new engines will give the military new capabilities essential for future operations.

“The T901 is the Army’s new 3,000 horsepower mid-engine designed to fit the existing Apache and Black Hawk nacelle and is also the engine for FARA. The T901 provides the critical capability that will enable army aviation greater range and lethality to dominate and win in multi-domain operations over close competitors by providing increased power, improved reliability and better fuel efficiency,” added the communicated.

Tests delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic

Engine testing took longer than expected as the coronavirus pandemic caused delays that influenced FARA’s competitive prototyping effort that requires the ITEP engine to fly. Bell and Lockheed Martin were chosen to build the FARA prototypes with the ITEP engines.

Both companies said they are on track to complete building their prototypes and are using 3D-printed ITEP engines in place of the real ones until the military delivers them. All parties involved are looking to achieve the first flight milestone by the end of 2023.

“Preliminary flight qualification testing will begin this fall, continuing through 2023, and will include eight T901 engines tested to Army Military Airworthiness Certification Criteria (AMACC) standards. These standards ensure an engine meets the requirements of the in design, production and continuing airworthiness and will encompass approximately 1,500 hours of engine testing. In total, the T901 will undergo nearly 5,000 hours of testing to achieve full engine qualification,” it reads. in the army statement.

Ultimately, the engine is expected to deliver improved power, reliability, and fuel efficiency to the Army’s helicopter fleet.

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