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Bell Receives T901 Turbine Engine for 360 Invictus Platform

Textron Subsidiary Readies Submission for DOT’s FARA Program

The U.S. Army has officially delivered a specimen of GE Aerospace’s T901 Improved Turbine Engine to Bell Textron Inc—the Fort Worth-based, rotorcraft manufacturing subsidiary of American industrial conglomerate Textron Inc. The engine will power Bell’s submission for the service’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program. By virtue of the powerplant’s arrival, the helicopter-maker stands ready to complete construction of its Bell 360 Invictus competitive prototype and move forward to subsequent stages of the FARA competition.

“The ITEP delivery is a major milestone for FARA and the Bell 360 Invictus competitive prototype,” said Jayme Gonzalez, program manager, FARA. “Now that we have received the engine, we are ready to begin working toward ground runs and other necessary preparations before first flight later next year.”

Bell and Team Invictus have been focused on preparing our FARA support infrastructure, supply chain and manufacturing hub to ensure alignment as we move forward on the path toward first flight. With the T901 now in hand, the Bell team is prepared to instrument and install the engine and functionally prepare the aircraft for ground test operations.

Once the aircraft has been functionally tested with the T901 installed, the next steps for the Bell 360 include completing the Test Readiness Review and a restrained ground run. These tests are key to enabling the safe, rapid, and efficient execution of the flight test program.

“Our team has been hard at work to drive down risk in preparation for ground and flight tests,” said Chris Gehler, senior vice president and program director, FARA. “We are excited to receive the T901 engine and look forward to demonstrating the transformative capabilities of the Bell 360 Invictus. As well, we continue to advance and meet Army requirements for an open weapons system design that provides the next level of lethality and survivability into our warfighters’ arsenal.”

The Bell 360 Invictus offers major increases in speed, reach, and lethality that will enable the Army to reintroduce the critical scout and reconnaissance capability with both piloted and autonomous capabilities.

Founded in 1935, Bell began life as a producer of fixed-wing aircraft the likes of the P-39 Airacobra; the P-59 Airacomet, the first American jet fighter; and the storied X-1, the first of America’s X-planes and the rocket-powered machine in which Chuck Yeager famously broke the sound-barrier in 1947.

In 1941, Bell hired Arthur M. Young, a talented inventor who provideD expertise germane to helicopter research and development. A pair of historic rotorcraft followed—namely, the Bell 47, which saved the lives of innumerable U.S. servicemen during the Korean War; and the 204/205 which live perennially on as the U.S. military’s Huey family.

In 1960, Textron purchased the entity then known as Bell Aerospace, streamlined it, and renamed it the Bell Helicopter Company. Over the span of only a few years, the UH-1’s (the U.S. military iteration of Bell’s 204 model) success in Vietnam saw Bell grow into Textron’s largest division. In 1976, Textron redesignated its helicopter-making subsidiary Bell Helicopter Textron. The company was rebranded Bell in February 2018.

FMI: www.bellflight.com

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