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GE and Safran compete to power AW149 for UK NMH requirement

Seen at the DSEi exhibition in London in September 2021, the AW149 will be powered by either the General Electric (GE) CT7-2E1 or the Safran Aneto-1K engine as Leonardo looks to secure the UK New Medium Helicopter requirement. (Leonardo)

Leonardo is expected to choose between the General Electric (GE) CT7-2E1 and the Safran Aneto-1K to power the AW149 in its bid for the UK New Medium Helicopter (NMH) requirement.

Both engine manufacturers are promoting their use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), the heritage of their engines, and commonality with other powerplants in UK service.

At a press event on 23 March, Safran's chief executive officer of helicopter engines, Nick Earl, promoted the engine's high power, its RTM322 heritage, and the use of SAF. With the Royal Air Force (RAF) known to be particularly keen on SAF, the Aneto can take 50% SAF now, and will be cleared for 100% SAF in two to three years. Approximately 75% of Safran's research and development budget is for environmental programmes, said Earl. He said the NMH contract is a “massively strategic programme for us”.

The Aneto puts out 2,500 shp whereas the CT7 is 2,000 shp, so the Aneto would be better in extreme hot/high situations, but would use more fuel. The CT7 is lighter, allowing for a heavier payload.

Bjorn Gidner, GE's regional vice-president sales, covering Europe, Turkey, India, Japan, and Taiwan said, “Our CT7-2E1 engine for the AW149/AW189 is rated at around 2,000 shp, which has been optimised for the aircraft operating envelope. We also believe that the engine weight, lower fuel burn, and maintenance cost advantages of the CT7-2E1 in comparison to our competition is favourable for nearly every mission.”

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