PARIS — France’s Safran and Germany’s MTU Aero Engines created a joint venture to develop a new power unit for Europe’s next-generation military helicopter project.

The 50/50 venture will work on a “100% European engine” to power a military helicopter set to enter service by 2040, and will provide the core for a partnership with industrial firms from several other European countries, the companies said in a joint statement.

The companies said the future heavy engine will be “significantly” more efficient with lower operating and maintenance costs, and allow for faster and more maneuverable helicopters with increased range. Safran and MTU are members of the Airbus Helicopters-led European Next Generation Rotorcraft consortium, which was awarded €40 million by the European Defense Fund in 2021 to study future vertical-takeoff needs and capabilities.

The joint venture “will enable us to start developing new technologies such as hybrid-electric propulsion and high-temperature materials, to meet the specifications of future helicopter projects,” Safran Helicopter Engines CEO Cédric Goubet said in the statement.

The new joint venture, called EURA for European Military Rotorcraft Engine Alliance, will be based in Bordes in France at the Safran Helicopter Engines headquarters, and its CEO will come from within MTU, the companies said. Creating EURA will encourage a future call from the European Defense Fund for military helicopter engines, to which Safran and MTU would respond via the new joint venture, the companies said.

The NATO Support and Procurement Agency, meanwhile, is working on its Next Generation Rotorcraft Program to develop a new-generation medium-lift helicopter, and in December awarded a first study on a new engine for the rotorcraft to GE Aerospace.

The European Union’s Permanent Structured Cooperation scheme last year kicked off yet another project called the Next Generation Medium Helicopter which seeks to “provide coherent solutions for future EU rotorcraft capabilities” though both new platforms as well as upgrades of existing ones, particularly the NH90, and prepare the European next-generation rotorcraft program.

Safran and MTU are already working together in a joint venture with ITP Aero to develop a next-generation engine for the Future Combat Air System. Safran supplies helicopters engines to Airbus and Leonardo, while MTU has been a partner for Safran on the power plant for the Tiger attack helicopter and with GE Aerospace on the engine for the Sikorsky CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter.

Rudy Ruitenberg is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. He started his career at Bloomberg News and has experience reporting on technology, commodity markets and politics.

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