Military engines: Local power

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Two smaller engine manufacturers are benefiting from a growing European military helicopter industry. France's Turbomeca and Spain's ITP play key roles on two European-designed turboshafts that power the Eurocopter Tiger, AgustaWestland EH101 and NH Industries NH90.

On the back of a 2003 Spanish army order for Tiger attack helicopters, ITP joined the MTU Turbomeca Rolls-Royce MTR390 engine programme. The company has taken a 25% stake in development, and 20% in production, of an enhanced MTR390E producing 14% more take-off power than the original 1,285shp (950kW) engine.

In all, 342 MTR390-2Cs are on order for the 160 Tigers being procured by France and Germany and to be delivered by 2011. The same engines are being assembled at Turbomeca Australasia's Sydney facility for Australia's Tigers. Delivery of the enhanced engines for the Spanish helicopters is scheduled to begin in 2009.

In April ITP announced it was planning to set up a dedicated helicopter engine maintenance facility to maintain and overhaul Spanish armed forces helicopters, including NH90 transports powered by the Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322.

Produced by Eurocopter, AgustaWestland and Stork Aerospace, the NH90 is the latest application for the RTM322, and accounts for a substantial share of the more than 1,600 orders and options announced by RRTM.

Other applications include the EH101 and the UK's AgustaWestland-assembled WAH-64D version of the Boeing Apache attack helicopter.

In February, the first RTM322-powered MCH101 mine-countermeasures helicopter was delivered to the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force for flight testing. To support the triple-turbine helicopter, RRTM has granted Kawasaki Heavy Industries a licence to assemble, test and maintain RTM322s for the Japanese service.

In March, the Australian Department of Defence selected the RTM322 to power an additional 34 MRH90 multi-role helicopters, bringing the total ordered to 46 aircraft. RRTM and Turbomeca Australasia have signed a contract for the assembly and test of 92 engines, plus engines, to be delivered by 2013.

Turbomeca, which became the small engines component of the Safran group in 2005, has a wide range of programmes under way including the popular Arriel and Arrius turboshafts. The Arriel family comprises 28 variants powering helicopters including Eurocopter's military Fennec and Panther. In military guise the Arrius 2K2 powers the AgustaWestland A109LUH light utility helicopter.

In June 2006, EADS North America won the contract to supply the US Army with 322 UH-145 light utility helicopters - a military version of the Eurocopter EC145 light twin powered by two Arriel 1E2s. The engines are being assembled and tested at Turbomeca's US facility in Grand Prairie, Texas, and the company is qualifying domestic suppliers to achieve the agreed 65% of US content within three years. Production will ramp up to 80-100 engines a year over the next eight years.

Turbomeca's 1,100shp TM333 2B2 turboshaft powers the Hindustan Aeronautics Dhruv helicopter, more than 200 of which have been delivered. Another version the 2M2, has been used to re-engine the HAL Chetan (formerly Chetak) helicopter. Turbomeca and HAL are now working together to develop and co-produce the 1,680shp Ardiden (Shakti) turboshaft to power Indian army and air force Dhruvs.

HAL is responsible for 11% of development. The first 60 engines are being produced in France, with production being progressively transferred to India.


Rolls-Royce 
 The RTM322 powers numerous helicopter types, including UK asseembled Apaches