The US Defense Department has partnered with the Israeli government in procuring 169 units of the latest General Electric T408 turboshaft engine to support both armed forces’ CH-53K ‘King Stallion’ heavy-lift cargo helicopter fleet.

General Electric Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric, was granted a contract worth $683.7 million per a notice posted last Wednesday, April 26.

According to the contract, General Electric will produce the T408 engines in three successive stages, each accounting for ongoing upgrades and developments, in three continued configurations. The first configuration, Lot 8, will consist of 65 engines, with the US Navy (USN) ordering 54 and Israel ordering 11. The second configuration, Lot 7, will produce 51 T408 engines, of which 39 will be for USN and 12 for Israel. Finally, the third configuration, Lot 6, will have 53, with 36 and 17, respectively.

T408 turboshaft engine
T408 turboshaft engine (Image source: GE Aerospace)

Besides the production, the deal will also include funding for other support services, such as programmatic and logistics, and initiatives aimed at reducing costs. In addition, the overall assembly of the T408 engines will be performed at General Electric’s facility in Lynn, Massachusetts, and is expected to be completed in June 2027.

T408 Engine: Cost-efficient, Enhanced Performance

General Electric’s T408 is the latest and most advanced variant of its CH-53K engine, offering significant performance improvements of about 57 percent more power than its predecessor.

Accordingly, it generates up to 7,500 shaft horsepower and boasts cutting-edge technology and modern design innovations that cranks up the mission capability of a rotorcraft. It uses advanced materials and manufacturing techniques to reduce weight and increase durability. Furthermore, it has a modular design that enables more manageable maintenance and upgrades—additionally, a more fuel-efficient capable of reducing operational costs and improving the helicopter’s range and endurance.

Once fitted, the T408 engine enhances a CH-53K helicopter’s external payload capacity by up to 13.5 tons (27,000 pounds) over a mission radius of 110 nautical miles (126.6 miles) in extreme weather conditions. That’s nearly triple the current capabilities of a CH-53E ‘Super Stallion’ aircraft.

The CH-53K King Stallion
CH-53K King Stallion (Image source: DVIDS)

Its technical specifications are impressive, increasing the reliability and high performance of the heavy-lift cargo. It has a maximum speed of 165 knots (190 mph), capable of covering significant distances within a short time frame. The engine has a range of 460 nautical miles (530 miles) and a service ceiling of approximately 14,500 feet (4,420 meters), making it suitable for various missions. Moreover, its Time Before Overhaul (TBO) is around 6,000 hours, so the engine can go through multiple flights without requiring significant maintenance.