The Army on Monday took a step forward in its Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP), an effort to put new engines on its AH-64 Apaches and UH-74 Black Hawk helicopters.

The service awarded a pair of contracts to General Electric [GE] and the Honeywell [HON]-Pratt & Whitney [UTX] joint venture known as Advanced Turbine Engine Company (ATEC) for preliminary design reviews (PDR) of new technology centerline improved turbine engines. GE’s contract is worth $102 million while ATEC’s is worth $154 million.

UH-60 Black Hawk Photo: Sikorsky.
UH-60 Black Hawk
Photo: Sikorsky.

Both contracts are two-year deals and fixed-price-incentive. After PDR, the Army plans to select a single supplier to complete the development and qualification of the ITEP engine. ATEC said in a statement that the Army would select from competing PDRs in 2018 and then proceed with a sole developer.

The contracts are going toward ATEC’s HPW3000 engine and GE’s GE3000 engine. ATEC recently completed testing of two HPW3000 engines that have already validated various program requirements, the company said in a statement.

The GE3000 integrates technologies demonstrated in two Army science and technology (S&T) efforts: the Advanced Affordable Turbine Engine (AATE) and the Future Affordable Turbine Engine (FATE) programs, according to a company statement. GE is spending $200 million to build two ceramic matrix composite (CMC) material production facilities in Huntsville, Ala., to ensure there is sufficient production capability for future engines like the GE3000. GE plans to substantiate the benefit of incorporating advanced hot section materials such as CMC in the engine.

The Army said Tuesday it would not be able to respond to a request for comment by press time. But a service official said last September ITEP would not be impacted by a continuing resolution (CR), a scenario the Defense Department again faces as fiscal year 2016 winds down. ITEP is not a new start and, thus, is not impacted by a stopgap spending measure, which typically prohibits money for new starts (Defense Daily, Sept. 28).

The contract awards could also have long-term implications for both companies as derivatives of the ITEP engine are expected power versions of the Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) aircraft. ATEC said the Army’s requirements for the new ITEP engine include 50 percent more power, 25 percent better fuel efficiency and 20 percent longer engine life while also meeting performance goals in high latitude and hot conditions at 6,000 feet and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.