By Carlos Aguirre
June 2020 -- As the military adds innovative capabilities to vehicles, there is a critical need for additional electrical power to support them. That need for more power includes U.S. military special operations forces that are given the latest in advanced technology. To solve that problem, the vehicles these operators use can be transformed into mobile power generators with minimal changes that don’t affect the performance of the vehicle. The result? Mission assured power, generated from the vehicle’s powertrain; enabling greater threat detection, lethality range extension and freedom of maneuver while recharging mission equipment.
In its basic automotive powertrain configuration, the vehicle only has so much power to give. Lethality, extended-range Threat Detection, faster and more complex communication capabilities, Active Protections Systems and other critical technologies all require greater power. In order to fill this power gap, Leonardo DRS designed a power system leveraging naval propulsion technology for these ground vehicles. This development is known as On-board Vehicle Power (OBVP). OBVP supports a range of platforms including Mission Command Platforms (MCP), Light MCPs, Command Post Support Vehicles (CPSVs), Tactical Command Post (TAC), Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD), High Energy Laser / Directed Energy weapons platforms, and Mobile Missile & Hypersonic Launch Vehicle. OBVP can also be adapted into vehicles designed for special operations missions that require high reliability, mission assured clean power.
Leonardo DRS has forged an alliance with Allison Transmission, the world’s largest manufacturer of fully automatic transmissions, and designed a generator machine inside the transmission, the Transmission Integral Generator (TIG), which generates additional electrical power to the vehicle without compromising vehicle performance. The system has been designed, tested and delivered to address the military’s increasing need for more electrical power to support expeditionary and mission-critical needs. OBVP also reduces the logistical complexity associated with unit level deployment by significantly reducing the need for towed or tunnel generators. In today’s reality, electrical power is a critical enabler on the battlefield—our Warfighters must be able to detect and identify threats sooner (requires more power), increase their threat engagement range (requires more power) and defeat all threats quickly and consistently (requires more power). The employment of Artificial Intelligence, Sensor Fusion, Active Protection, Directed Energy, Tactical Network / Cloud Computing all requires additional electrical power well beyond the vehicle’s native power producing capabilities. Mission Assured Power is key to continued dominance on the battlefield.
OBVP is a multi-purpose system used on a wide range of vehicle platforms to include Light Tactical Vehicles - High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV), Medium Tactical Vehicles and Heavy Tactical Vehicles, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, and Stryker Combat Vehicles. OBVP technology is also a key enabler for future Next Generation Combat Vehicles that aim to employ more modern powertrain capabilities for supporting future electrical demands.
“A simple thing like the availability of electrical power can deliver improved efficiencies and gains that have a ripple effect, especially out in the field,” says Director of Business Development for Leonardo DRS Land Electronics, Carlos Aguirre, “in general power doesn’t truly get the attention it deserves, it’s not sexy, it doesn’t Shoot, Move or Communicate yet it makes all those things a reality, it is almost always taken for granted, yet it’s vital when developing technologies for our warfighters to achieve success. If they embrace this technology, the Army and the Department of Defense, it will change how they fight and give them efficiencies they have never had before.”
The electrical power gap is real. Warfighters deal with it on a constant basis, Weapon systems go down because of it, Operational Readiness suffers because of it, and fortunately, the technology to counter the power gap is ready for use today. OBVP has been tested, exercised and proven to be a Highly Reliable, Low Technical Risk technology. The employment of OBVP enables our special operators to focus on executing the core mission requirements rather than worrying about where the power is coming from. OBVP equipped vehicles to improve the operational adaptability of ground forces by providing mobile, expeditionary power when speed, range, agility, and flexibility are critical to mission success.
As we add capability to the vehicles, the available power must be considered not just for what we want to power today, but for what we want to power into the future and Leonardo DRS' OBVP is evolving to meet the power supply requirements for tomorrow.