02-04-2010, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
2003 WRX wagon
They already have alternative vehicles, but the need for small nimble vehicles is probably diminished given air units.
The Army and Marine Corps are testing research vehicles that combine internal-combustion engines with battery power, a concept becoming popular in civilian cars such as the Toyota Prius.
The interest in hybrid power is part of a broad effort to find new vehicles better suited to fight in wars similar to the conflict in Iraq. In past wars, the military could race ahead and then stop safely behind the front lines to refuel. In Iraq, the war is fought throughout the country, and supply convoys are always at risk. Hybrid vehicles could reduce the number of convoys.
The Army is testing a half-dozen hybrid-electric versions of the Humvee chassis at various testing grounds in the USA.
The Marines are testing a different vehicle called the RST-V (Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Targeting Vehicle), a light truck built by General Dynamics that has an electric motor at each wheel hub.
Though the hub drives have yet to prove they can be durable enough, their design could mean added safety for troops. A motor at each wheel could let the vehicle move even if one wheel is destroyed. Eliminating heavy driveshafts and other components can remove the hazard that occurs when they become projectiles after a vehicle hits a mine or bomb.
General Dynamics' spokesman Pete Keating said the company wants to test the RST-V in Iraq this year, although it hasn't worked out the details with the Marines.
Marine Col. Clarke Lethin, who oversees requirements for future vehicles at the Marine base in Quantico, Va., said hybrids could help the military achieve increased fuel economy. Other potential military advantages include:
•Near-silent operation. The vehicles can operate on battery alone, at least slowly, when troops don't want engine noise giving away their position.
•A source of electricity. Instead of towing generators that provide electricity for field command posts, the rechargeable batteries in hybrid vehicles could generate that power. Hybrid batteries are recharged while the vehicle is running off its fuel source.
•Acceleration. Army testing last year showed the hybrids were faster than standard Humvees for short bursts of speed.
So they are well aware of the hybrid thing