Bell has taken delivery of the General Electric Aerospace T901 Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) from the Army for its 360 Invictus attack helicopter prototype, marking a new milestone in its development, the company announced.
The T901 ITEP engine was delivered to Bell Textron Inc.’s Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas, where it was installed in the aircraft.
“Since beginning the build in late 2020, Bell and Team Invictus have made great progress and had completed 96 percent of the competitive prototype by early 2023,” Bell said Monday in a statement. “Now that the engine has been received and installed, the team is moving closer to first flight later next year.”
The Bell 360 Invictus next-gen helicopter is one of two contenders for the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program, competing with the Sikorsky Raider X as a replacement for the Bell OH-58 Kiowa scout helicopter. Development of both prototypes has been slowed due to delays in engine delivery.
The T901 engine, which remains in developmental testing with GE and the Army, is expected to receive clearance for flight in 2024, according to Bell. The company added that in the interim the Bell 360 will undergo functionality testing, test readiness review, and restrained ground runs.
“This work will occur concurrently as the Army completes final testing for flight using the T901,” Bell said.
The T901 is the Army’s next-generation replacement engine for the AH-64E Apache helicopters, the UH-60M/V and HH-60M Black Hawk, as well as for its FARA program.