WASHINGTON -- The Army has awarded a contract to the Advanced Turbine Engine Company – a joint venture of Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney – to develop and demonstrate advanced engine capabilities that could be used in a new fleet of Future Vertical Lift (FVL) helicopters the service plans to procure in the early 2030s.

The contract is part of the Army's Alternate Concept Engine (ACE) program, that will look at the science and technology needed to develop and validate new engines that would provide improvements in "vertical lift, range, speed, payload, survivability and reliability" for a future helicopter, according to an ATEC statement.

ATEC plans to demonstrate "advanced variable speed turbine capabilities" and other technologies in a demonstrator engine test, the statement notes. The program will also seek to reduce operational and life cycle costs and the logistical footprint of the engine as well as the helicopter.

"ACE gives us the opportunity to build on a very successful demonstration of our HPW3000 engine and to add the variable speed turbine and other advanced features that are directly applicable to future vertical lift," Craig Madden, president of ATEC, said.

The HPW3000 engine is ATEC's Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) offering that company officials believe could save the Army $1 billion a year in fuel and maintenance costs.

ATEC was also recently awarded a $154 million contract for preliminary design review for the Army’s ITEP that will replace the engines in roughly 3,000 of the service’s UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.

GE Aviation was also awarded a PDR contract to develop its GE3000 engine for ITEP, to the tune of $102 million.

The work under the contracts is expected to take two years, ending in August 2018, when the Army selects one engine design to continue into the engineering and manufacturing development phase. The Army anticipates a total development cost of $720 million.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.

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