Say “hello” to the T408 engine. Formerly known as the GE38, GE Aviation’s newest and largest turboshaft engine achieved this new designation along with being qualified for Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) in support of the CH-53K King Stallion helicopter.

A ceremony, attended by representatives of the U.S. and international militaries, airframe manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft and engine partner MTU, was held June 21 in Lynn, Massachusetts to commemorate this milestone.

“This has been viewed as a model program throughout GE Aviation, being one of the most well-executed development efforts in our recent history. I attribute this success to the dedication of our highly capable and motivated team,” said MSO Vice President Jean Lydon-Rodgers.

“The team truly understands the importance of this engine to our customer, the US Marine Corps. Everyone who contributed to the design and qualification of the T408 takes exceptional pride in this product knowing that it will enable the Marine Corps to perform critical missions in their service to our nation.”

Brig. Gen. Kurt Stein, USMC Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation, served as the keynote speaker. “Congratulations and thanks to all involved in this program, including the engineers and those who manufacture, assemble and test the T408,” Brig. Gen. Stein commented. “The engine and its lift capabilities are critical to enabling the CH-53K and our Marines to perform additional missions that will help enhance support of our troops on the ground.

“The collaboration between GE and Sikorsky should truly be viewed as a good-news story for the CH-53K and Marine aviation.”

This paves the way for GE to submit its CH-53K LRIP proposal, with contract award in early 2017 to support planned CH-53K initial operating capability (IOC) in 2019. The LRIP contract will include logistics support, technical publications and NAVAIR organic support development.

“This engine qualification signifies the culmination of years of design and testing with the Marine Corps and Sikorsky,” said Harry Nahatis, Advanced Turboshaft Programs general manager. “We’re honored to add to the half-century legacy of the CH-53 fleet with the step-change in propulsion capability provided by the T408.”

GE is part of an industry team led by Sikorsky that is assembling prototype CH-53K aircraft. The Marine Corps expect to stand up the first CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter squadron in 2019. The U.S. Navy program of record is for 200 aircraft.

Three 7,332-rated shaft horsepower T408 engines will provide the power for the King Stallion aircraft, enabling the aircraft to carry a 27,000-pound external load over a mission radius of 110 nautical miles in hot weather conditions, which triples the external load carrying capacity of the service’s current T64-powered CH-53E SUPER STALLION.

Sikorsky chose GE to develop the engine in December 2006, and the GE38-1B first engine to test ran in 2009. Most recently, the T408 successfully completed three engine tests at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California: noise, fuel ingestion and alternate fuels.

The T408 system development and demonstration phase delivered one core demonstrator engine, five factory test engines and 20 flight test engines to the CH-53K program.

The engine has so far exceeded 6,000 hours of testing, including 4,500 hours in the factory and more than 1,500 hours on the ground test vehicle and the first two flight test vehicles. GE Aviation has delivered nine SDTA engines so far and is on contract to deliver a total of 22 through 2017.