Next-gen helo engines delivered to Sikorsky for Black Hawk integration

Next-gen helo engines delivered to Sikorsky for Black Hawk integration

A pair of the Army’s next-generation rotary-wing engines were delivered to Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky ahead of integration into the UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopter, the company announced.

The delivery signals, “a new phase of Black Hawk helicopter modernization efforts,” the company said in a June 27 statement.

The Improved Turbine Engine Program engine, developed by General Electric’s aerospace division, has experienced a slew of delays related to technology development and supply chain woes. A year ago, the Army predicted a nearly two-year delay getting the T901 engine into the UH-60.

The Black Hawk will be the first to receive the capability, and the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter will follow.

The T901 engine will replace the 1970s-era T700 and provide aircraft with a 50% power increase to restore performance. It’s 25% improved fuel consumption reduces energy usage and carbon emissions. The engine is also expected to have more durable components, which will lower life-cycle costs.

While the Army remains committed to the ITEP engine, earlier this year it decided to keep the program in development longer, pushing back plans for procurement and fielding. The service does not yet have a new plan for when fielding will take place.

The Army had planned to use the ITEP engine in its Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, or FARA, but canceled the helicopter program this year after two competing industry teams — Bell and Sikorsky — received the engine for the prototypes they were building.

Sikorsky had taken advantage of fiscal 2024 FARA program funding before the Army officially closed the program at the end of the year to run tests of the ITEP in the prototype, ahead of integrating the engine into the UH-60, in order to drive down risk, Paul Lemmo, Sikorsky’s president, said earlier this year. On April 10, the company conducted its first ground run of the ITEP engine in the FARA prototype, Lemmo added.

Now that Sikorsky has the ITEP engines for Black Hawk integration, it will conduct a fit check with the engine in one of the two modified UH-60s and install one in the helicopter for actual ground runs and test flights, Lemmo said. That process will take roughly a month.

Sikorsky then plans to take about six months to integrate the engine and conduct ground runs prior to a first flight, he noted.

The company said it plans to install the second engine into another UH-60 test aircraft in order to accelerate the test program.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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