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GE River Works secures $517M contract to build engines for Army helicopters

GE engine assembler Paul Tucker works on a T408 helicopter engine. (Louise Michaud)

LYNN — Workers at General Electric Aviation’s River Works plant in Lynn will help power the Army’s Apache and Black Hawk helicopters. The company has secured a $517,375,800 contract to build the engines, beating out a joint Pratt & Whitney-Honeywell International bid.

Under the terms of the new contract announced Friday, GE will build T901 engines for the AH-64 Apache and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, which will replace an older GE-built model — the T701 — which currently powers the two vehicles.

“We are honored to be chosen by the Army to continue powering their Black Hawks and Apaches for decades to come,” GE Aviation president and CEO for military business Tony Mathis said in a statement.

The contract should support the equivalent of at least 100 full-time engineering jobs at the Lynn facility, according to GE.

The new line is the latest boon for the venerable Western Avenue facility. In December, company executives and workers alike celebrated the start of production for 22 T408 Marine helicopter engines. That project, based on a $143 million contact, led to a hiring spree at the plant, according to state representative and former International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers (IUE-CWA) Local 201 president Peter Capano.

Securing the new engine line pays off a big bet made by GE’s aviation division as a whole. The company said it has invested more than $9 billion in the technology “applicable” to the T901, and more than $300 million for “test turboshaft-specific technologies.” It beat out a joint bid made by Advanced Turbine Engine Company, a joint venture between Pratt & Whitney and Honeywell.

Work on the engines is expected to be completed by Aug. 1, 2024, according to the Department of Defense announcement of the contract award.

“Fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of ($130 million) were obligated at the time of the award,” according to the department.

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