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The next few months are ‘critical’ for the Army’s new helicopter engine

WASHINGTON — The Army’s Improved Turbine Engine Program is facing a “critical” stretch which will determine whether testing on the engine will occur on time or be delayed, thanks to challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a pair of Army officials said Wednesday.

Patrick Mason, the program executive officer for Army aviation, and Brig. Gen. Walter Rugen, the director for future vertical lift inside Army Futures Command, said that the service has finished its component critical design review (CDR) process, and has moved on to its full program CDR, a key milestone before moving into testing.

However, “given COVID and all of the factors that have gone on with COVID,” the plan to have the full CDR done during second quarter has been pushed to third quarter, Mason said at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation.

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Aviation fleet getting improved turbine engine

For 100 days, the Improved Turbine Engine program has been in a holding pattern while awaiting the conclusion of an official protest against the ITEP Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract award to General Electric Aviation. The wait ended on May 30, with the contract award to GE Aviation for their T901 turbine engine upheld as the Army?s Improved Turbine Engine, a state-of-the-art 3,000 shaft horsepower class turbine engine.

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Army’s Decision On Huge Helicopter Engine Program Will Impact GE, Honeywell, United Technologies

Sometime in the very near future, probably this month, the U.S. Army will announce the winner of a competition to develop a new engine for most of the service?s helicopters. Called the Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP), it is a multibillion-dollar effort that has often been described as the Army?s top aviation modernization priority.

It isn?t hard to see why. The weight of Army light and medium helicopters has been growing by 70-100 pounds per year since they debuted in the last century as new equipment, munitions and armor were added. As a result, both the Black Hawk utility helicopter and the Apache attack helicopter are under-powered when operating in ?high-hot? conditions, meaning above 6,000 feet in temperatures of 95 degrees or greater.

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Army aviation taking major steps in 2019 to improve fleet

WASHINGTON ? The U.S. Army aviation?s program office is taking steps in 2019 to improve the fleet, to include moving forward on a major engine replacement effort for UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache helicopters as well as providing some of the fleet with improved visibility for degraded visual environments, according to the service?s program executive officer for aviation.

Both of those efforts have been touted as major priorities for Army aviation but have taken longer to bring online than expected.

The service is headed into a period of aggressive modernization to include a plan to buy two new Future Vertical Lift helicopters in the 2030s, but the Army also has to strike a balance to keep its current fleet capable and ready.

DefenseNews.com