The US Army plans to grant Sikorsky a sole-source contract to integrate and qualify GE Aviation’s T901-900 turboshaft in its UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters, with work starting in fiscal year 2022.

Known as the Improved Turbine Engine, the 3,000hp (2,237kW) T901s will replace GE T701s in the UH-60M fleet. T901s have 50% more power and are 25% more fuel efficient than T701s, but weigh about the same and fit within the same space.

A 3D printed model of the GE T901 engine hangs from its sling waiting to be installed in an UH-60M c US Army

Source: US Army

A 3D printed model of the GE T901 engine hangs from a sling, waiting to be installed in an UH-60M as part of a fit check

The US Army is giving Sikorsky a sole-source contract on a cost-plus-fixed-fee basis, it says in a pre-solicitation notice made public on 26 March.

The service will not hold a competition because “the supplies and services required by the agency are available only from the [original equipment manufacturer], Sikorsky,” the notice says. “Sikorsky is the sole-source designer, developer and manufacturer of the H-60 aircraft, and is also responsible for integration of the UH/HH subsystems into the aircraft.”

The contract is planned to be executed between FY2022, which starts in October, and FY2025.

T901s will increase the UH-60M’s range, while carrying nine troops, by 161%, to 141nm (261km), according to GE. The new engine will also increase the UH-60M’s payload capacity over a 30nm distance by 150%, to 2,683kg (5,916lb).

The US Army also plans to use T901s to re-engine its Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and to power its in-development Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft.

The engine is supposed to maintain much of its performance in high and hot conditions, up to 6,000ft and at 35°C (95°F). GE says the powerplant’s modular design will enable easier field repairs, and that the T901 has comparatively lower operation and sustainment costs.

In 2019, GE defeated a bid by the Advanced Turbine Engine Company, a joint venture of Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney, to win the Improved Turbine Engine programme. The T901 reached critical design review last July.