Lessons learned from T408 program to help guide future Army aircraft

By Amy Tolson, DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center Public AffairsJune 11, 2021

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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – With the completion of a five-year project, the Army has a better understanding of the advantages and challenges that may accompany integrating an advanced engine into a Chinook.

As part of a Cooperative Research And Development Agreement (CRADA), the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, in partnership with Boeing and General Electric, recently completed a multi-year demonstration that powered a NCH-47D Chinook with a GE T408 turboshaft engine. The T408 was originally developed and qualified by the Navy for use on the CH-53K King Stallion.

“The T408 program proved the feasibility of installing a larger, more powerful, and technologically advanced engine on an enduring fleet aircraft,” said Col. Justin Highley, commander of the AvMC Technology Development Directorate – Aviation, Systems Integration and Demonstration. “This was a huge undertaking, but by working through the various integration challenges we learned some critical lessons that can support future Army decisions on engine retrofits.”

Army sponsors included Program Executive Office Aviation’s PM Cargo and PM Aviation Turbine Engines, with Kamatics and Parker LORD as subcontractors to the industry partners. In addition to AvMC’s TDD-A, the Systems Readiness Directorate participated in the requirements definition and development phase.

“This program is a perfect example of how powerful CRADAs can be. Every CRADA partner brought unique engineering expertise and/or resources to the table, each of which was critical to the program’s success. Without question, the T408 program could not have happened without this great collaboration,” Highley said.

With testing concluded, what will happen with the lessons learned from the T408 program?

“The ATE Project Office tracks and supports fellow military organization’s research and specification development efforts regarding turbine engine and alternate power solutions,” said PM ATE Project Manager Col. Roger Kuykendall. “The T408 flight demonstration is an invaluable effort that the ATE Project Office can include as a data point for current market research and reduce risk for a T55 Second Source in the event that requirements materialize.

“Although there is no requirement nor approved plan to upgrade or replace the T55 engine beyond normal Component Improvement Program activities, the CRADA demonstrated the feasibility of alternate propulsion systems for the H-47 aircraft.”


The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.