By Col. Roger KuykendallMay 31, 2019
For 100 days, the Improved Turbine Engine program has been in a holding pattern while awaiting the conclusion of an official protest against the ITEP Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract award to General Electric Aviation. The wait ended on May 30, with the contract award to GE Aviation for their T901 turbine engine upheld as the Army's Improved Turbine Engine, a state-of-the-art 3,000 shaft horsepower class turbine engine.
With work now able to continue, both the Aviation Turbine Engines Project Office and GE Aviation hit the ground running to remain on schedule and meet the upcoming milestones as ITEP enters the EMD phase of development.
ITEP reached Milestone B in record time when the Army Contracting Command-Redstone awarded the EMD contract to GE Aviation Feb. 1 for their T901 turbine engine, two months ahead of schedule. The contract, valued at $517,357,800, was awarded in support of the ATE project office to design, test and qualify Army aviation's next generation turboshaft engine as part of the Army's aggressive modernization efforts. Just two weeks after the contract award, on Feb. 19, the Advanced Turbine Engine Company filed an official protest to the contract award decision. Despite the protest, ITEP will remain on schedule with opportunity for acceleration due to the ITEP EMD contract's schedule incentive.
The success of the early contract award was due to the dedicated team effort to collaborate among multiple organizations and a shared commitment to the ITEP mission. The ITEP EMD contract award was spearheaded by D. Vince Dickens, ACC-Redstone contracting officer; Billy Gravitt, ACC-Redstone lead contract specialist; and Rhonda Hall, ACC contract specialist.
Successful streamlining of the acquisition process was due to the collaboration among the ATE project office; ACC-Redstone; Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center; Aviation Engineering Directorate; Army Materiel Command legal; Aviation and Missile Command small business; and the ACC pricing directorate.
"Our secret, to keep the early schedule, was to get ongoing consensus reviews from a cross-functional board leadership, which allowed for simultaneous reviews of everything that we needed so that there was no serial inactivity," Dickens said. "It was all parallel and continuous to ensure we didn't lose time; we did everything real time."
Thanks to the holistic approach taken by the ACC team, the entire process was painstakingly documented and can be utilized as a reference for future contract awards.
"Billy Gravitt was instrumental in his ability to lead the team while meticulously documenting everything," Dickens said.
The team's approach to streamlining collaboration altered the methodology for future contract awards for the better and provided meticulous documentation valued by AMC's legal counsel and the Government Accountability Office during the protest.
The ACC-Redstone ITEP team, in their efforts to sustain the cooperation of these multiple organizations, was the foundation supporting the entire process.
"We did it all as a team, not just as individuals," Gravitt said. "We kept our timelines and our milestones posted at all times. We would meet with the board chair weekly to receive an updated timeline, had a 'can do' attitude and considered what we, individually, could contribute to ensure the schedule is kept to meet the customer's requirements.
"And all of us were able to see the team effort and plan out what we needed to accomplish accordingly."
Their success affects not just the methodology guiding future contract awards, but also the future of Army aviation as it seeks to design and deliver advanced aviation capabilities.
The next step for ITEP in EMD will be reaching the Critical Design Review in fiscal 2020 followed by the First Engine to Test build completion in fiscal 2021.
During this time, the ATE project office will continue to collaborate with the Program Executive Office for Aviation's Apache and the Utility Helicopter project offices to ensure a smooth integration of the T901 into the current platforms.
The ATE project office is also working hand-in-hand with Future Vertical Lift to support the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program, which has the ITE as its designated engine. As the FARA prototype competition moves toward down selecting from the five competing vendors, the ATE project office will continue to collaborate with FVL to provide the best power solutions for the Army's next generation aircraft.
The upheld contract award to GE for the T901 turbine engine as the ITE places the Army a significant step closer to reaching its modernization goals. The T901 meets the ITEP requirements of being a state-of-the-art 3,000 shaft hp class engine, which will increase performance for the Apache and Black Hawk fleets. The T901 will restore capabilities lost due to consistent airframe growth over the last 40 years and provide significant fuel savings, significant power enhancement, worldwide performance to meet operational requirements, modular design that enables field level repair and lower operation and sustainment costs.
With the perseverance and expertise of the ATE project office and ACC-Redstone behind ITEP, this next generation engine program is on its way to powering the current Apache and Black Hawk fleets along with FARA, well into the future.
The ATE project office is one of nine project offices managed by the Program Executive Office for Aviation. The organization's primary responsibility is to serve Soldiers and our nation by designing, developing, delivering and supporting advanced aviation capabilities for operational commanders and our allies.