Hybrid electric drive: for the military of tomorrow

Charging stations for electric vehicles are popping up left and right. Many common shopping centers today even offer electric charging stations to recharge your car while you shop.

A Hybrid Electric Drive is being integrated into the Bradley Fighting Vehicle M2A2 under a U.S. Army contract.

While the commercial market is embracing the push to all electric, the military is assessing the viability of all electric vehicles and alternatives. According to a study published by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicines, all electric ground combat and tactical supply vehicles “are not practical for a majority of battlefield vehicles now nor in the foreseeable future.” 

Instead, the military needs to shift its focus to Hybrid Electric Drive (HED), a more relevant goal suitable for a multi-domain operating environment. HED vehicles are powered by an internal combustion engine, an electric motor(s) and an energy storage system such as batteries. These vehicles are charged through regenerative braking and by the internal combustion engine coupled to a generator. There’s no need for the extensive infrastructure and planning required to support charging capabilities on the battlefield – HED vehicles charge through use and the existing infrastructure of supplying fuel.

HED offers a compelling value proposition for the further electrification of combat and tactical vehicles and creates an architecture that can plug and play new technology advancements such as hydrogen and full electric systems when those technologies are ready for combat use. It allows for improved fuel economy and range, packaging flexibility that can change historical vehicle design, lower life cycle costs, improved mobility performance and many more advantages over conventional drive systems. 

“Integrating HED into combat vehicles is a truly disruptive technology,” Jim Miller, director of business development at BAE Systems, Inc., said. “HED not only supports the enduring priorities of force protection and survivability, but also provides electrical power for enhanced lethality, mobility and C4SIR capabilities.”

Specifically, BAE Systems is using existing Bradley Fighting Vehicles as a testbed for integrating HED technology under the Combat Vehicle Power and Energy architecture and mobility capabilities development program. This work is being executed under a prototype agreement from the U.S. Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office as part of the Army’s effort to increase vehicle efficiency and boost power generation to support integration of future technologies and greater mobility for combat vehicles on the battlefield. 

HED architecture offers numerous military capability and operational benefits and the best part is its mature technology that is available today. BAE Systems offers over 40 years of investment and industry collaboration in advancing HED technology, developing vehicle architectures for thousands of buses and developing military demonstrators in support of this technology. This technology is ready-now, scalable, flexible, and supports the needs of the warfighter.