After a dozen years of research and reflection, the U.S. Army is ready to select a design to replace the engines in its Black Hawk and Apache helicopters. Whether it picks the GE or the Honeywell/Pratt & Whitney offering, it will be getting big gains in performance, fuel efficiency and reliability. GE is offering a refinement of the “single-spool” configuration currently used in all Army rotorcraft, while the Honeywell/Pratt team is offering a very different “dual-spool” architecture that it says is intrinsically superior. The Army will be needing at least 10,000 of the improved turboshaft engines, and it could need many more if the technology is applied to other airframes like a planned armed recon helicopter. The new engine will be a huge franchise for whichever team wins, and a huge blow to whoever loses. A decision is expected later this month. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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