January 16, 2014
Credit: U.S. Army
Without money to carry two vendors through separate programs to develop more powerful Boeing Apache and Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter engines, U.S. Army officials are simply hoping now to be able to carry both through the technology development phase of the Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP).
“We would love to have enough money to take two vendors to milestone C,” when a program enters production, said Maj. Gen. Tim Crosby, program executive officer for Army Aviation. But several funding drills indicate the service would more likely have to shed one before then. “The target now with the plan we put in place is two vendors through milestone B,” when development begins.
The Army is having to cut back on major programs—including a likely divestiture of the Bell OH-58A/C/D Kiowa and TH-67 fleets—to meet mandated spending restrictions. Doing so, however, could allow for continued funding for such efforts as ITEP. It is focused on delivering more powerful engines for the AH-64E Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk, two fleets the Army is fighting to keep in service despite the grim fiscal outlook.
The service hopes to re-engine those fleets in the 2020s. A Honeywell/Pratt & Whitney team and General Electric are separately developing designs for 3,000-shp. turboshaft engines.
Army Aviation Program Executive Officer Maj. Gen. Tim Crosby says that ITEP and another program to upgrade the UH-60L with all-digital cockpits are two of his top priorities, aside from keeping the Apache, Chinook, Lakota and Black Hawk platform efforts intact.