The Improved Turbine Engine Program, a program within the Program Executive Office for Aviation's Aviation Turbine Engines Project Office, changed leadership during a ceremony June 18.

Lt. Col. Curt Kuetemeyer relinquished responsibility as ITEP's product manager to Lt. Col. Travis Harris, who most recently served as the aviation combat systems analyst for the G-8 Program Analysis and Evaluation Directorate.

While serving as the PM for ITEP, Kuetemeyer led his team through a number of significant achievements including Milestone A, Preliminary Design Reviews for General Electric and the Advanced Turbine Engine Company, Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction close out, preparation of Milestone B documents and soliciting for Engineering & Manufacturing Development proposals.

"A Soldier somewhere is counting on Curt to do his job and to do it well," Col. Roger Kuykendall, ATE project manager, said. "He has done that superbly … and, we are all very proud of him.

"Of all the things that Curt has done, I think the biggest one would be his leadership. If you look at the ITEP team, they respond to him very well, they have high morale and they are overachievers -- even in kickball." (Kickball is the highlight of ATE's annual organization day.)

Kuykendall welcomed the new product manager with a nod toward the coming challenges of managing ITEP as it moves toward Milestone B and beyond.

"You come here with a solid reputation, and I have no doubt that you will continue to push the ball forward. … It's going to get a lot busier," he said.

ITEP is one of the top two aviation modernization priorities -- its outcome will affect both current and future aircraft used by the warfighter. With a 3,000 shaft horsepower engine, the ITE will replace the current T700-GE-701D engine that has 2,000 shaft horsepower, for the H-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache fleets. The new engine will offer enhanced capability in all areas of engine performance: increased power, improved fuel efficiency, increased engine design life and better reliability.

Harris is eager to accept the challenge of his new position and spoke to the importance of the ITEP program.

"It's a program that will become vital to maintaining Army aviation lethality with the continued defense of our nation and its citizens," Harris said.

He also took the opportunity to express his gratitude to Army leadership for the opportunity and recognize distinguished guests of the event, including his great-uncle James Apicella, a World War II veteran.

During the ceremony, Kuetemeyer was recognized with several awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal and the Knight of the Honorable Order of St. Michael from Gary Nenninger of the Army Aviation Association of America. His wife was also recognized with the Medallion of the Order of the Honorable Lady of Loretto for her support to the Army aviation community.

Kuetemeyer is retiring from service and plans to spend some quality time with his family before reentering the workforce.