GE Tests New FATE Engine To Offer Army Upgraded T408

GE Aviation T408
Credit: GE Aviation

As engine selection for one bidding team seeking a Future Vertical Lift contract continues, a new GE Aviation engine for a heavy rotorcraft has now reached 130 hr. of testing and captured 2,200 steady-state data points, the company said Oct. 14. 

GE’s Future Affordable Turbine Engine (FATE), which is jointly funded by the Army, is not planned to transition onto an aircraft, but component technologies could be inserted into the 7,500 shp-class T408 turboshaft engine. 

GE delivered two full-scale FATE engines for testing in 2019. 

“We’re pleased with the results from engine and component testing, which completed all primary objectives,” said Harry Nahatis, vice president and general manager of GE’s rotorcraft engines business. 

Components of the engine also remain in testing. These include the inlet particle separator, compressor, combustor and turbine. 

Some or all of those components could be inserted into the T408 engine, GE said. The T408, which now powers the U.S. Marine Corps Sikorsky CH-53K, is being offered for the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program, which intends to replace the Army’s fleet of about 2,000 Sikorsky UH-60s with a high-speed rotorcraft. GE declined to clarify which components could be inserted into the T408.

Bell already has announced teaming up with Rolls-Royce to power the V-280. That leaves the Lockheed Martin-Boeing SB-1 Defiant as the potential application for a FATE-modified T408. The SB-1 demonstrator is now flying with the Honeywell T55 engine. 

The FATE engine includes new technologies that GE has introduced in commercial aircraft engines over the last decade. The goal of the program is for a full-scale engine to demonstrate a 35% reduction in specific fuel consumption, an 80% improvement in power-to-weight ratio, a 20% improvement in design life and a 45% reduction in production and maintenance costs compared to existing engines in the same class. 

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.