Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney expect to be under contract in April to demonstrate a new 3,000shp (2,250kW)-class turboshaft to power US Army helicopters.

The HPW3000 will be a drop-in replacement for the General Electric T700, and GE is already under contract to demonstrate an improved version of its engine.

Demonstrations under the US Army-led Advanced Affordable Turbine Engine (AATE) programme are to be completed by 2012-13. One of the designs is then expected to be selected for development and the potential production of 6,000 turboshafts to re-engine Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and Sikorsky UH-60 utilities, says P&W military engines president Tom Farmer.

The HPW3000 is a 50:50 venture between Honeywell and P&W. "We take Honeywell's small engine technology demonstrators and bring in our [Lockheed Martin F-35] Joint Strike Fighter technology, scaled down," says Farmer. "The team quickly found an excellent engine. It will be an engine with significant advances."

Winning the AATE contract is a consolation for P&W, which lost the US Air Force's larger Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology (ADVENT) competition to demonstrate a variable-cycle combat-aircraft engine to GE and Rolls-Royce.

"We were not happy to lose ADVENT," says Farmer. Arguing that P&W's engine production for the Boeing C-17 strategic transport and Lockheed F-22 fighter is coming to an end while GE remains "unchallenged" on engines for helicopters and naval tactical aircraft, Farmer says: "Losing ADVENT in the greater context of the US industrial base should create pause and consideration."

In the wake of the disputed USAF KC-X tanker award, US Congress is looking into whether the law should be changed to require the Department of Defense to consider industrial base issues when making procurement decisions.