The US Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has awarded a $143.48m low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract to GE Aviation for the manufacture of 22 T408-GE-400 engines.
The engines are expected to help power the US Marine Corps’ (USMC) CH-53K King Stallion helicopters, which were developed by Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky.
NAVAIR’s latest deal follows the Milestone C decision taken by the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) on 4 April this year, which granted approval for the LRIP project.
GE Aviation T408 programme director Linda Smith said: “GE is proud to support the joint team of Sikorsky, NAVAIR and the Marine Corps as we begin production of the T408, the most advanced turboshaft engine in its class.
“The T408’s step change in propulsion capability will deliver unprecedented performance for the warfighter.”
GE previously received formal approval from the US Navy for the completion of the T408 engines’ LRIP qualification in February last year, following a series of rigorous tests during the CH-53K engineering manufacturing and development (EMD) phase.
The new contract supports a 2019 initial operating capability (IOC) programme milestone and includes provision for logistics support, technical publications and organic support development.
The aircraft will be equipped with three GE 7,378-rated shaft horsepower T408 engines, enabling the aircraft to carry a 27,000lb external load over a mission radius of 110nm in high / hot weather conditions.
Additionally, the T408 engines feature a more rugged compressor design than previous models, which helps increase durability and resistance to sand erosion and salt water corrosion.
The T408 system development and demonstration phase provided one core demonstrator engine, five factory test engines and 20 flight test engines for the USMC’s CH-53K programme.