Senior Army officials recently viewed a demonstration of the service’s first prototype of a hybrid-electric Bradley fighting vehicle, with the delivery of two test systems planned for September.

Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood, director of the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO), said the demonstration at a BAE Systems

facility, which was viewed by Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, particularly highlighted the hybrid-electric Bradley’s silent watch capability.

Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
(Photo: BAE Systems)

“The secretary yesterday was standing next to me when they started the vehicle up and she leaned over to me and said, ‘Did they start the vehicle?’ And I said, ‘It’s going.’ And then they accelerated from zero to 35 kilometers in about four seconds,” Thurgood told attendees Wednesday at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama. “It is amazingly quiet. In fact, the only thing you can hear are the rubber pads hitting the ground.”

RCCTO awarded BAE Systems a $32.2 million deal in July 2020 to integrate hybrid electric drives (HEDs) on two Bradley test vehicles, as the service looks to prove out new electrification technologies for its combat vehicle fleet (Defense Daily, July 16 2020). 

BAE Systems said at the time of award it was working with QinetiQ on the project, which will provide the electric cross drive transmission for the hybrid-electric drives.

“Integrating a Hybrid Electric Drive system into combat vehicles vastly increases on-board power and provides a significant increase in mobility, lethality options, and range, all of which enable overmatching operational capabilities,” Scott Davis, vice president of BAE Systems’ ground vehicles product line, said in a statement at the time.

RCCTO has previously said the program involves outfitting the two Bradleys with “an upgraded engine, a transmission replaced by an electric drive motor and the addition of lithium-ion batteries.”

“Let me clarify ‘hybrid electric.’ It’s not a Tesla. It’s certainly not a Prius. It is a hybrid electric vehicle that has onboard power for current and future sensors we know we’re going to add. Electrical power is a limiting factor when you want to add sensors and new technologies to a vehicle. Two, it provides offboard power, so we’re going to reduce the number of generators on the battlefield,” Thurgood said on Wednesday.

Thurgood added that going after hybrid-electric may help the Army achieve cost savings and reduce the overall logistics burden, while reiterating “silent watch” as a key capability of the solution.

“All weapons up, all sensors up, [you can have] seven hours with no sound. Imagine that in a defensive position. Imagine that in an offensive movement to contact. That’s powerful,” Thurgood said.