Sunday, December 1, 2013
U.S. Army’s ITEP Undergoes Engine Test Runs
The U.S. Army’s Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) has moved a major step forward with the first run of the competing engines now complete. ITEP was created to find replacement engines for the General Electric T-700s that power the Boeing AH-64 Apache and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. The new engines will provide power in the 3,000 SHP range compared to the 2,000 SHP range of the T-700 they will replace, but at the same weight of around 450 lbs. They will also be designed as “drop in” engines.
The effort is part of the larger Advanced Affordable Turbine Engine (AATE) program under the Army’s Aviation Applied Technology Directorate created as a demonstrator initiative to establish a validated technology base for the engineering development of future Army rotary wing engines. The two companies competing for the ITEP engine contract are the Advanced Turbine Engine Company (ATEC), a 50-50 joint venture between Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney, and General Electric.
Jerry Wheeler, vice president of ATEC, said that the test running of the company’s first HPW3000 engine started in March and ended in July, with the second engine testing starting in September. The second engine will be used for testing in areas such as sand ingestion, and will run into 2014, he said.
General Electric has now run its first ITEP engine, the GE3000, and will have its second engine up and running by the end of this year, according to Bill Bohman, marketing manager for the GE3000 program.
The program is now in the tail end of the S&T phase, and will be going into validation, leading into the full development program. Wheeler said that they expect an RFP by next June, with a final contract award being made in mid-2015. He also noted that the U.S. Navy is interested in the new engine and is involved in the analysis. The general requirements being asked of the new 3,000 SHP engine is that it produce 65 percent more shaft horsepower to weight ratio, but with a 25 percent decrease in specific fuel consumption. It should also have a 20 percent improvement in engine life, with a 35 percent reduction in acquisition/maintenance cost and a 15 percent improvement in developmental costs. Bohman said that improvements would come from new technology such as Ceramic Matrix Components (CMC), which provides the same strength as their metal counterparts, but with less weight.
Other power-to-weight improvements will come from areas such as new materials, innovative cooling configurations and advanced aerodynamic designs.