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Sikorsky and Bell Receive FARA Engine Deliveries from the US Army

Photo: FlightGlobal

Improved Turbine Engine Programme (ITEP), a pivotal element of this endeavor, has successfully furnished powerplants to industry leaders Sikorsky and Bell, both of whom stand as finalists in the fierce competition to develop the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA).

Sikorsky and Bell Receive FARA Engine Deliveries from the US Army (Photo: FlightGlobal)

Revolutionizing Helicopter Power: The ITEP Boost

According to the report featured by Flight Global News, in October 23, 2023, in a momentous stride toward the modernization of its aviation fleet, the US Army has reached a pivotal juncture by delivering high-performance engines to key contenders in the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competition. The army’s aviation procurement office, on October 23, confirmed the delivery of powerplants to industry giants Sikorsky and Bell, both of whom are finalists in this prestigious aerial challenge. This delivery marks a significant leap to Sikorsky and Bell in the Improved Turbine Engine Programme (ITEP), which has been spearheading the transformation of the US Army’s aviation capabilities.

The heart of the matter lies in these engines, which will propel the service’s next-generation attack helicopters, underlining the critical role played by Sikorsky and Bell. GE Aerospace, renowned for its cutting-edge technologies, played a pivotal role by delivering the first T901 Improved Turbine Engine to the US Army in early October. These engines, with a staggering power output of 3,000shp, have now found their way to Sikorsky and Bell, breathing new life into the Bell 360 Invictus and Sikorsky Raider X programs.

This engine, crafted by GE Aerospace, isn’t merely limited to the FARA prototypes; it is set to replace the GE Aerospace T700 engine currently in service on Boeing AH-64E Apache and Sikorsky UH-60M/V Black Hawk helicopters. Notably, the T901 engine’s enhanced fuel efficiency promises an extended operational range and loiter time, while its reliability and durability improvements are poised to significantly reduce maintenance and sustainment costs that interplays to Sikorsky and Bell.

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ITEP’s Forward Trajectory

In a news published by DVIDS Hub, with the delivery of T901 engines to Sikorsky and Bell, a clear path unfolds for the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program’s future timeline. The US Army reveals that both competitors will be diligently integrating the ITEP engines into their prototypes, with comprehensive ground testing slated for the first quarter of 2024. This encompasses critical milestones such as system level Preliminary Flight Rating (PFR) testing, which is a vital step towards obtaining airworthiness release for flight testing.

The PFR testing is already underway at GE Aerospace facilities and is expected to conclude as part of the requirements for FARA’s planned flight demonstration in 2024. The imminent first flight of the Raider X and 360 Invictus prototypes is anticipated to grace the skies in the summer of 2024. This achievement of Sikorsky and Bell is all the more impressive considering the challenges GE Aerospace faced over the past two years, stemming from supply chain and labor disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The remarkable progress of ITEP and the cooperation of industry leaders like Sikorsky and Bell reflect a testament to the unyielding pursuit of excellence in aviation modernization, ensuring the US Army remains at the forefront of aerial technology.

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