The Cavalry & Armor Journal, By Carlos Aguirre
October 2019 -- Electrical power itself is almost always taken for granted, yet it’s vital for us to live our everyday lives. We expect power to be available whether we are home, at work, at school, out to eat, going to the movies, or going to the doctor, and we depend on it. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, however, do not have that luxury and must tow a generator for power, that cannot be operated on while on-the-move or in austere environments. Therefore, as capabilities evolve and there is a need for greater power onboard vehicles, we must continue developing technologies for our warfighters to achieve success.
As this evolution progresses, and the Vehicle Program Offices have no direct requirements for providing electrical power, and the Generator Program Office has no direct requirements for providing vehicle-based power, a power gap has begun to emerge. As the military adds innovative capabilities to vehicles, there is a critical need for additional power to support them. To solve for such an imperative, it only makes sense to utilize prime mover vehicles already transporting troops, soldiers and weapons to the front line to also serve as an additional power source for those added capabilities.
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, a power system leveraging naval propulsion technology was designed to work for ground vehicles. This development is known as On-board Vehicle Power (OBVP). OBVP supports 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 technology is Dual-Use so it can be used for Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Recovery missions, i.e. providing power to a variety of emergency facilities such as field hospitals, triage centers, nursing homes, fueling stations, or any other critical asset requiring clean, reliable power.
By employing a generator machine inside the transmission, additional electrical power is provided 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. While OBVP doesn’t shoot, move, or communicate, it makes all those things possible. 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 soldiers 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 capabilities 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 OBVP is evolving to meet the power supply requirements for tomorrow.