GE Set to Provide T408 Turboshaft Engines to U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)

January 22, 2021 by Seth Price

GE has been awarded a $111.9 million contract to provide additional T408 turboshaft engines to NAVAIR, according to a press release earlier this month.

The T408 Turboshaft Engine Capabilities

The T408 turboshaft engines power the US Marine Corps Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion, their heavy-lift helicopter. This is the fourth lot of engines provided by GE for use in these helicopters.


T408 Turboshaft Engine. Image courtesy of GE. 


The T408 Turboshaft Engine generates 7500 shaft horsepower (5593 kW), allowing these helicopters to lift 27,000 lbs (12247 kg) and transport them 110 nautical miles (203 km). Furthermore, these engines have been extensively tested in hot weather, where the lift is significantly reduced, and they still produce these numbers. 

They have over 11,000 hours of testing to date, including flight time testing and engine stand testing. All of this is delivered at a cost 10-25% lower than competing engines. As compared to its predecessor, the T264, the T408 produces 57% more horsepower. This means the T408 can be used to lift three times the load that the T264 could. 


Full Authority Digital Engine Control 

To keep the engines running, all engines are delivered with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) to track all engine sensors and alert pilots and technicians to developing problems, long before they become a threat. The T408 also uses 18% less fuel and has 63% fewer parts, making troubleshooting easier. 

When a problem is detected, the modular design of this engine simplifies repairs. With fewer parts to diagnose and supply in times of combat, the T408 will keep the helicopters in the air, delivering supplies to Marines in need.

GE will deliver a fourth lot of these engines to US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). The engines will be largely produced in GE’s Lynn, MA, plant, with some components coming from several other plants in Florida, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Vermont. 

Some of the turbine components will be furnished by MTU Aero, a partner to GE in the T408 program.


The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion

The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion is considered an aeronautical masterpiece. It is designed to transport equipment, fuel, and Marines anywhere on the planet. It can operate in extreme hot and cold and has been designed to operate long-term onboard ships to tolerate a corrosive, salt-spray environment. 


The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion Heavy Lift Helicopter. Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin. 


The five compressors used for this engine have been made sand-tolerant, making it suitable for the Middle East and the desert Southwest.

Deputy Commandant for the UMSC, Lieutenant General Steven Rudder, discussed the CH-35K and mentioned,  “we have not found another platform that can accomplish everything we can off of a ship at the distances and weight that we’re asking [the CH-53K] to do.”

At the center of all of these capabilities is the T408 Turboshaft Engine. Between the power and lifting capacity and the fuel efficiency, this engine may keep the CH-35Ks in the sky, delivering needed Marines, supplies, and fuel wherever they are needed.