The US Army’s longstanding reliance on the UH-60 Black Hawk is about to evolve with the introduction of the T901-GE-900 engine.

The newly accepted turbine from GE Aerospace, now set for integration and flight testing by Sikorsky, offers power, efficiency, and operational longevity improvements.

On June 27 2024, the Army’s receipt of the T901 engines was commemorated at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach facility, a milestone in the Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP). This event, attended by representatives from the Army, GE Aerospace, and Lockheed Martin, underlined the importance of this development.

The T901 engine is poised to deliver a 50% increase in power and better fuel efficiency, enhancing the UH-60M Black Hawk’s operational range and capabilities without necessitating costly re-engineering efforts.

Significant growth for helicopter segment

The North American military transport and utility helicopter segment is expected to experience significant growth, primarily driven by prominent US programs such as the UH-60M Black Hawk Program, according to GlobalData’s “The Global Military Rotorcraft Market 2023-2033” report.

“This delivery represents the beginning of a new era and a pivotal moment in our ongoing work with the US Army,” stated Amy Gowder, President and CEO of Defense & Systems at GE Aerospace. “It’s about securing the tactical edge of our warfighters for decades to come.” This sentiment was echoed by Tom Champion, GE Aerospace’s T901 programme director, who highlighted the engine’s performance throughout its development stages, ensuring it meets the demands of modern military missions.

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While the focus is on the Black Hawk’s enhanced capabilities, the T901’s design incorporates technologies, such as ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) and 3D-printed parts, which allow the engine to produce more power while maintaining a lighter weight. These, alongside the engine’s modular design inherited from the proven T700, reduce maintenance costs and improve reliability—factors for sustained military operations.

Sikorsky’s role in Black Hawk modernisation

With ground and flight testing already underway, Sikorsky’s integration efforts will see the T901 engines installed in multiple Black Hawk test aircraft. This programme is crucial for the immediate integration of the T901 into the Black Hawk but also leverages insights gained from the engine’s application in the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) prototype, Raider X.

“The ITEP and other enhancement efforts ensure the Black Hawk remains in operation well into the 2070s, securing its position as the Army’s foundational tactical air assault and utility aircraft of choice,” remarked Hamid Salim, Vice President of Army and Air Force Systems at Sikorsky.

In recent UH-60M Black Hawk global defence procurements, Greece has secured clearance from the US State Department for a $1.95bn contract with Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky. Meanwhile, Croatia has added eight Black Hawks, approved under a $500m deal. Albania’s $54m acquisition of UH-60A helicopters aligns its defence standards with Western alliances. In South America, Brazil awaits approval for a $950m Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of 12 Black Hawks.