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Military Helos To Propel Turboshaft Engine Orders?

An intriguing briefing paper from Forecast International seems to have some good news for turboshaft powerplant manufacturers. The report told the ANN crew that "rising worldwide demand" for new military helicopters, combined with large-scale U.S. re-engining requirements, will propel an otherwise flat turboshaft engine market to higher levels during the coming decade, according to a Forecast International market analysis. "The Market for Aviation Turboshaft Engines: 2004-2013" points to several key U.S. military programs that will drive production of current-technology turboshaft engines; it also describes emerging military requirements mandating new and more efficient powerplant designs.

The demand for military turboshaft engines is expected to rise significantly over the course of the forecast period as a number of U.S. helicopter programs gain momentum. Military turboshaft deliveries will increase from 776 in 2004 to more than 1,200 in 2009, and will remain near that level through the end of the forecast period. Civilian helicopter production, according to the report, will continue to require about 900 turboshaft engines per year over the next six to seven years.

Recent U.S. military helicopter operations in high-elevation regions have highlighted the need for more powerful engines, and a long-term effort to re-engine several hundred U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawks is intended to address that need. Even more powerful replacement engines are expected as a result of the Army's Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP), which ultimately could yield a common powerplant for Black Hawks and AH-64 Apaches. Under the auspices of ITEP and similar programs, engine-builders have been striving to develop more durable and economical turboshaft engines to power those helicopters and their successors.

"Incremental upgrades to existing turboshaft engines will continue to improve the performance and reliability of military helicopters in the near term," said Rich Henderson, aerospace analyst and co-author of the analysis. "However, some extraordinary advances will be required toward the end of the forecast period, as next-generation medium- and heavy-lift helicopters move off the drawing boards and into development."

Among those are the U.S. Army's Air Maneuver Transport and the successor to the venerable Black Hawk. The AMT could be configured as a four-engine tiltrotor or other innovative aircraft, according to initial Pentagon proposals. In any case, the final design is likely to require turboshaft engines in the 6,000-shp (4,474-kW) class.

Forecast International projects that 19,719 turboshaft engines, including 8,793 civil and 10,926 military engines, will be delivered in the 2004-2013 period. These engines will have a total value at $10.6 billion in 2004 U.S. dollars, including $7.5 billion in military sales.

FMI: www.forecast1.com

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