The U.S. Army’s Research Laboratory has awarded GE a $5.1 million research and development contract for the Applied Research Collaborative Systematic Turboshaft Electrification Project (ARC-STEP). ARC-STEP seeks to advance hybrid electric engine technology. The project will include research, development, testing, and evaluation of a megawatt (MW) class electrified powerplant that would further develop technologies that would provide the benefits from hybrid and electric power systems to the Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL). The goal of ARC-STEP is to explore the performance of such alternative systems while still meeting the military requirements in terms of payload, range, and endurance.
A multidisciplinary group from GE and the Army will include subject matter experts in turbine engines, electrical systems, and thermal management disciplines . These researchers will investigate and integrate technologies that enable lightweight, efficient, reliable, and safe hybrid-electric propulsion systems. ARC-STEP will use a GE CT7 turboshaft engine, combined with a GE’s electrical machine and power electronics knowledge and experience. The CT7 family includes turboprop and turboshaft engines that currently power 25 types of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, having accumulated more than 100 flight hours.
“We are excited to collaborate with GE to truly advance hybrid-electric technologies for Future Vertical Lift,” says Mike Kweon, program manager for DEVCOM ARL’s Versatile Tactical Power and Propulsion Essential Research Program (VICTOR ERP.) “We want to further explore what is possible in these hybrid systems as well as what must be done to develop electrified systems for Future Vertical Lift that can meet the Army’s needs for increased payload, endurance, range and sufficient onboard power.”