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U.S. Army’s future helicopter engine moves forward

The U.S. Army’s next-generation helicopter engine is ready to enter the technology maturation and risk reduction phase of the Pentagon’s acquisition framework.

The Advanced Affordable Turbine Engine program has been underway for eight years and is a 3,000-horsepower engine demonstrator program aimed at providing advanced propulsion for future Army rotorcraft platforms, the service said this week.

The engine would help ensure that Apache and Black Hawk helicopters stay effective well into the future.

The program is led by the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Aviation Development Directorate and focuses on specific fuel consumption reduction, improving shaft horsepower to weight ratio and reducing life cycle costs.

Two competing demonstrator engine approaches were worked via cost share agreements with General Electric and Advanced Turbine Engine Company, a joint venture of Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney.

The advanced systems provide 50 percent more power at the same weight as current fielded engines and operate robustly in austere environments.

Such technology will be applicable to other services, current rotorcraft fleets and future vertical lift rotorcraft, the Army said.