Tuesday, May 30, 2023
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Army’s FARA-destined future helicopter engine passes first test

The Army’s GE T901 First Engine to Test installed in the test cell prior to initial engine light off. (Photo courtesy of General Electric via DVIDS)

WASHINGTON: Prototype helicopters vying to be the future of the Army’s scout fleet came one step closer to having an engine to power their flight, after the service said Improved Turbine Engine recently completed an early stage of testing.

The Army announced Thursday that the Improved Turbine Engine program (ITEP) engine wrapped up the “first engine to test” (FETT) phase, in which the first engine underwent 100 hours of rigorous testing. The engine is meant to power the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) hand legacy chopper fleet. But delays have meant that defense contractors vying for the FARA award, Bell Textron and Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky, have been waiting on the engine before they can take to the air.

Related: Sikorsky’s FARA prototype 90% complete, learning from S-97 Raider’s flying data

“The event successfully verified and validated performance models on the Army’s next generation rotorcraft
engine,” the Army press release said.

The first engine began testing in late March and completed testing on June 28, according to the release. The release said preliminary flight rating testing will begin in the fall and continue through 2023, and includes eight engines. The next phase will include about 1,500 hours of testing. Overall, the ITEP engine will undergo 5,000 hours of testing to meet full flight qualification.

The ITEP engine has 3,000 horsepower, and the Army says that the engine will improve Army helicopters’ power, fuel efficiency and reliability.

Related: ‘A recipe for the parts’: Bell plans factory of the future with FARA, FLRAA dreams

“FETT’s successful conclusion serves to inform the next step of engine development and testing confirming that in the T901, Army Aviation has the needed capabilities to increase reach and lethality on the battlefield,” the release said.

In early April, Army aviation leaders said the FARA competitors would receive ITEP engine later this year.

“We are targeting November of this year for delivery of the first engines to the two FARA competitors. We are on track for that,” Brig. Gen. Robert Barrie, the program executive officer for aviation, told reporters then.

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