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US Army delivers General Electric T901 engines to Bell and Sikorsky for FARA competitors

Sikorsky takes delivery of the GE T901 ITEP engine. (Lockheed Martin)

The US Army has delivered two General Electric T901 Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) engines to Bell Helicopters and Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky, intended to power the companies' respective Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competitors. The companies took receipt of the 3,000 shaft horsepower engines on 20 October.

Both FARA competitors, the Bell 360 and Sikorsky Raider X, were effectively complete except for the engine. The T901's delivery has been delayed multiple times, most recently from late 2022.

Both Bell Helicopters and Sikorsky intend to immediately install test instrumentation on the engines and integrate them into their prototypes; initial power-ons and ground testing are to follow, culminating in first flights planned for late 2024.

“Now that we have received the engine, we are ready to begin working toward ground runs and other necessary preparations before first flight later next year,” said Bell Helicopters' FARA programme manager Jayme Gonzalez.

“After installing additional instrumentation, Sikorsky will begin engine installation immediately,” the company said in a statement. “Following that, final system tests and check-outs will be accomplished. Those will be followed by engine turn on and drive system check out with the ITEP [engine] in the aircraft. After successful system checks, we will conduct flight acceptance testing and proceed to first flight.”

The army requires that both FARA competitors, Bell's 360 Invictus and Sikorsky's Raider X, are powered by single T901s. The engine type is further slated to replace the GE T700 engines in existing Sikorsky UH-60M and V models and Boeing AH-64E fleets, improving the fuel efficiency and lifting capacity of both types.

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