One of the Army’s most important modernization efforts isn’t a new tank or missile. It is the Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) to design and develop a new engine intended primarily to replace the existing power plant in the 1,300 Black Hawk and 600 Apache helicopters in the Army’s fleet. The new engine may also power the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft. Earlier this year, the Army awarded a contract for engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) to General Electric, one of the two competitors in the ITEP program, based on a preliminary design review. There was no requirement to provide a prototype engine that could be tested under realistic conditions. This means the program is moving forward with significant technical manufacturing, cost and performance risk. A better approach would have been to continue both engines into EMD at least until they each produced an engine that could undergo preliminary flight rating tests. I have written more about this here.
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