General Electric and Pratt & Whitney have linked to compete for a US programme to develop a new engine for growth versions of the Boeing Apache and Sikorsky Black Hawk and Seahawk helicopters.

The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a business venture to pursue the US Army's Common Engine Programme (CEP), due to begin next year. Ownership and workshare will be divided 60:40 between GE and P&W.

GE says teaming will spread the technical and schedule risks in meeting "challenging" CEP goals. Compared with the GE T700, which powers the Apache and Black Hawk, the army wants 25% better fuel economy, 60% higher power-to-weight ratio and 20% lower operation and support costs.

While GE and P&W believe the CEP requirements can only be met by a new engine, Rolls-Royce plans to offer a version of the RTM322, and has no intention of teaming. "We have the technology to compete without a partner. The growth RTM322 can meet the goals with significant cost savings to the army," the company says.

Honeywell, a participant with GE and R-R in the US Joint Turbine Advanced Gas Generator (JTAGG) technology demonstrator project, is talking to potential partners, but says it "does not feel teaming is necessary to be successful". It adds: "Only new technologies developed through JTAGG will deliver [the CEP goals]".

The army has yet to receive US Department of Defense approval to start CEP development, but plans to initiate a competition next year. Production of the 2,235kW (3,000shp) CEP would begin in 2007, initially to power the upgraded UH-60X.

P&W has no involvement in the small engine market, and expects to draw heavily on sister company Pratt & Whitney Canada's experience with small turbines and helicopter engines. The company formed a Small Military Engines unit late last year.

Source: Flight International