Army Delivers First T901 ITEP Engines for FARA Prototype Helicopters
Both companies that are competing for the U.S. Army's new Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program have received the General Electric T901 Improved Turbine Engines (ITEP) necessary for flight testing their respective prototype helicopters, including Bell’s 360 Invictus and Sikorsky’s Raider X. The Army completed the delivery of the 3,000 shaft horsepower engines to both companies on Oct. 20, allowing each to start integrating the engines into their prototypes.
FARA is organized under the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) umbrella, an overarching initiative to replace the Army’s aging helicopter fleet with advanced vertical takeoff and landing aircraft capable of a wide range of mission sets. As a FVL component, FARA specifically aims to fulfill the armed reconnaissance and forward scouting role for Army aviation units. The Bell 360 Invictus and Sikorsky Raider X prototypes will compete for final selection by the Army for planned service introduction in 2030.
The deliveries mark a significant achievement in Army Aviation Modernization. The Army has not developed and delivered a new aviation turbine engine since the T700 began powering the Black Hawk fleet in the 1970s. LTC Kelley Nalley, ITEP Product Manager, stated, “I am incredibly proud of the teamwork and partnership between the Army and GE Aerospace to deliver engines to the FARA-CP. It has taken several years of development to get here, so it’s exciting to see the T901 come to life in support of Army Aviation Modernization.”
ITEP’s upcoming developmental testing includes the completion of system level Preliminary Flight Rating (PFR) testing, which will enable an airworthiness release for flight testing. PFR testing is in progress at GE Aerospace facilities and is expected to complete the required testing for FARA’s flight demonstration in 2024.
The T901 will power FARA and replace the T700 engine currently used on all AH-64E Apache and UH-60M/V Black Hawk helicopters. The T901’s fuel efficiency improves the enduring fleet’s range, and loiter time, while the engine’s reliability and life improvements reduce maintenance and sustainment costs.
AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk aircraft have served the Army’s mission for over 40 years and will continue to do so for many years to come. Both platforms have added capabilities over the decades that have increased aircraft weight. The T901-equipped aircraft helps regain lost payload capability, particularly in high/hot (6k/95°) conditions and increases the range and loiter times of the Black Hawk and Apache helicopters.
The T901 combines additive manufacturing, ceramic matrix composites, and traditionally manufactured components to generate additional power (a 1,000 shaft horsepower (shp) increase; 3,000 shp total) at roughly the same size and weight of its predecessor, the T700.
Additionally, the T901 engine will introduce predictive logistics that increase time on wing via an onboard Engine Health Management System that supports Army Predictive and Prognostic Maintenance goals by using health monitoring sensors and embedded component health models and algorithms. In the digital environment, these technologies provide data analysis and advanced component life calculations that enable longer component usage, reduce demand for spare and replacement parts, and reduce soldier workload per system.