The T408 engine that will power the U.S. Marine Corps’ CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter is now going into production. The contract to build 22 T408-GE-400s and provide logistics and engineering support for the engine, valued at 143,481,258 million U.S. dollars, has been awarded to GE Aviation by the U.S. military, marking a major milestone. MTU Aero Engines, Germany’s leading engine manufacturer, is responsible for the development and production of the power turbine for the T408 engine and has a work share of 18 percent in the engine program. The U.S. Marine Corps expects its first squadron of CH-53K helicopters to reach initial operational capability by 2019.
In 2006, Sikorsky selected GE Aviation to develop the engine, thus starting the T408’s success story. Since it completed its first test run in 2009, the propulsion system has logged more than 8,900 hours of testing. Its three T408 engines give the CH-53K helicopter the power to carry a 27,000-pound external load over a mission radius of 110 nautical miles in Navy high/hot weather conditions, tripling the external load-carrying capacity of the service’s current CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter powered by GE Aviation’s T64 engine. In addition, the T408 will provide 57 percent more power, 18 percent better specific fuel consumption, and 63 percent fewer parts compared with its predecessor. The propulsion system has a more rugged compressor design to increase performance as well as durability and resistance to sand erosion and salt water corrosion – features ideal to withstand the U.S. Marine Corps’ tough operating environment.
Sikorsky is building 200 of the CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters, which will be delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps along with 800 T408 engines. MTU Aero Engines is developing and manufacturing the three-stage power turbine producing 7,378-rated shaft horsepower (SLS 59 deg), plus the exhaust casing and output shaft. Germany’s leading engine manufacturer will not only be responsible for the development and production of the power turbine, but will also hold licenses for maintenance and testing.
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