The first round of testing in the US Army’s Improved Turbine Engine Program has completed, helping to identify whether or not the new engines will be able to successfully power the existing fleet of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and UH-60 Black Hawk. There is also a hope that the new engines will be outfitted on Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft.
On July 7, the Army indicated the initial flight to take off using the first of these engines did so on March 22. Since that time, the same engine has completed more than 100 hours of run time.
In a statement, the Army described, “The event successfully verified and validated performance models on the Army’s next generation rotorcraft engine.”
In February of 2019, the Army selected General Electric’s ITEP engine, which awarded the company $517 million for its production. To do this, General Electric had to beat out intense competition from the likes of the Honeywell’s and Pratt & Whitney’s unified Advanced Turbine Engine Company. Of course, it has now taken at least ten years to finalize a prototype.
Now, they had originally thought they could shrink the timeline, a bit, to expedite ITEP engine testing and get it out to the field, but the coronavirus pandemic pushed the schedule back. Obviously, this has been a persistent problem across many industries all over the world. In this case, though, the schedule slips have led to FARA competitive prototyping delays, as they need the new ITE engine in order to fly.