Upgrade contract could be worth $1.5 billion over five years, says General Electric

The US Army’s recent award to General Electric of $178 million to upgrade and support T700 engines at the Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD) signals the start of a slow ramp-up in a fleet-wide conversion of the service’s entire Boeing AH-64 Apache and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk engine fleets. GE conservatively values the business as worth $1.5 billion over the next five years.

The US Army announced plans to convert to the T700-701D in its entire Apache and Black Hawk helicopter fleets in 2004 and the new contract follows a five-year, $668 million CCAD deal that concluded last year. GE says overhaul times were reduced by 80% over the previous contract period, while production capacity more than tripled from 500 units per year to 1,600.

The -701D upgrade consists chiefly of changes to the engine’s hot section, with modifications to the power turbine third stage, stator nozzles and shroud. In the case of the -701A, it also includes an all-new high-pressure turbine, digital electronic controls and anti-icing bleed valve. The basic -701D package also includes first- and second-stage blade material changes and upgrades to the combustor liner.

The changes provide twice the hot-section durability, lower life-cycle costs and 5% more power than the current T700-701C engine. Rated at 2,000shp (1,490kW), the -701D was awarded US Army qualification in 2004 and the first units were shipped in December 2004 to power Black Hawks.

“It will take some time, but this is just in the very beginning stages,” says T700 US military programmes and support director Scott Reed. “At the same time as going for the upgrades, the US Army wants to narrow down the number of configurations they need to support. They are trying to ‘neck down’ the variety of -700s in the Black Hawk and Apache.”

Including new UH-60Ms, upgraded UH-60 variants and re-manufactured AH-64s, the total potential is around 5,000 engines plus spares. “We’re looking at some serious numbers, but it will take time to get them that way,” says Reed. T700 regional sales director Don Flynn adds the upgrade represents “a lot of opportunities in the foreign military sales world, covering probably 2,000-plus engines. We’re looking at customers which, from 2008, will be buying the UH-60M and at others which already operate the AH-64.”


Source: Flight International