Sixteen years after development of General Electric's T407 turboprop was shelved following cancellation of the US Navy's Lockheed P-7 maritime patrol aircraft, Sikorsky has selected a turboshaft derivative of the 6,000shp-class (4,470kW) engine, the GE38-1B, to power the CH-53K heavylift helicopter.

The GE38 has been selected over the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150 and Rolls-Royce AE1107 to power the triple-turbine CH-53K, which is under development to replace the US Marine Corps' Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallions. Sikorsky was awarded the $3 billion contract to develop the CH-53K in April 2006.

The T407 turboprop never made it into production, but the GE38 core was used in the GE/Honeywell CFE738 turbofan, production of which is winding down as its only application, the Dassault Falcon 2000 business jet, is phased out in favour of a re-engined version.

The CH-53K's three GE38s will power a new rotor system with elastomeric hub and composite blades with advanced aerofoil and drooped tip. The helicopter is being designed to carry a 12,260kg (27,000lb) load to a distance of 200km (110nm), twice the hot-day lift capability of the CH-53E, which is powered by three GE T64s.

First flight of the CH-53K is scheduled for fiscal year 2011. A total of 156 new-build helicopters is planned. R-R's AE1107, which powers the USMC's Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor transport, had been considered the favourite for the upgraded Super Stallion.

The GE38-1B is to power Sikorsky's Marine Corps heavylift helicopter