The Army’s top acquisition official said lastThursday he “fully expects” the service’s future Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) will be a hybrid-electric powered platform.
Doug Bush, the Army’s assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, added his view is “based on [vendors’] bids so far, the direction of technology and the Army’s goals” that it gave to the contractors competing for the Bradley replacement program.
“Electrifying the Army’s heavy ground vehicle fleet will take longer. The technology lift there is a little bigger but the payoffs are potentially even larger,” Bush said during remarks at an Atlantic Council event. “This is where we think industry’s heading and this is where we want to move as quickly as we can.”
The five firms currently participating in the concept refinement phase for the OMFV program all recently submitted proposals for the competition’s upcoming detailed design and prototype build phases, with the companies confirming to Defense Daily they are offering hybrid-electric vehicle solutions (Defense Daily, Nov. 1).
Last Tuesday was the deadline to submit proposals for OMFV Phases 3 and 4, with the Army planning to award up to three contracts which will eventually require selected vendors to deliver up to 11 prototype vehicles.
Last July, the Army awarded nearly $300 million in contracts to five teams led by General Dynamics Land Systems [GD], Oshkosh Defense [OSK], BAE Systems, American Rheinmetall Vehicles and armor supplier Point Blank Enterprises for OMFV Phase 2 to work on refining their platform concepts over a period of 15 months (Defense Daily, July 23 2021).
Bush said the Army’s push for electrification of its vehicle fleets, which was included as a goal in the service’s recent climate strategy, is intended to “dramatically reduce fossil fuel consumption, demand and infrastructure on future battlefields.”
The service is also looking at hybrid-electric systems for the ability to “efficiently store and generate organic power on our vehicles” to enable new capabilities, Bush added, such as active protection systems and advanced electronic warfare systems, and to have increased levels of exportable power for use on the battlefield.
“Everything the Army will do to address electrification of Army combat vehicles is all aimed at one thing and that is making them more effective in combat. That is the number one priority. And that is always the number one priority because in combat, in direct fire contact with the enemy, is when our equipment has to be better than the other side’s. That comes first,” Bush said. “The benefits of doing so are clear. Having to transport less fuel means fewer fuel convoys, which means fewer soldiers at risk. And the less fuel we’re moving around the battlefield means we can move other things we need, ammunition, food, spare parts and an array of other items.”
Bush noted the Army currently has a research and development effort underway working with two hybrid-electric Bradley prototypes to help inform the service’s vehicle electrification pursuits.
“The prototypes have demonstrated significant fuel reduction and better capability to accelerate, operate silently and export power off of the platform onto other vehicles,” Bush said.
BAE Systems, which told Defense Daily last month it’s planning to build all future combat vehicles with capability for hybrid-electric power, provided those prototypes to the Army for ongoing testing (Defense Daily, Oct. 11).
“The hybrid-electric drive that we put into the Bradley, we made it scalable,” Jim Miller, BAE Systems’ vice president of business development, told Defense Daily. “And we’ve done that because the QinetiQ final drive is scalable between 30 and 60 tons and that covers all those vehicles. And we worked with the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office to pick the Bradley…because the Bradley engine compartment is the most restrictive of all the vehicles. So if you can make it fit in there and work in there, you can put it in all the other ones.”