Army announces battlefield vehicle electrification plans

The British Army is moving towards electrification of battlefield vehicles, it has been announced at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition at the ExCeL in London

Electrification, the process of reducing dependency on fossil fuels, has become increasingly prevalent in civilian life, with the proliferation of smart home energy, electric cars and clean public transport. But these initiatives have yet to carry over into the military domain.

As part of its Future Soldier vision, the battlefield electrification approach announced at DSEI will set out how the Army, over a 15-year period, will focus on an increase in the use of batteries, sustainable energy and hybrid electric drive technologies across its vehicle fleet.

Delivering effect needs the right power, in the right place, at the right time. Using hybrid vehicles will make it easier to get the power where it needs to be. Colonel Simon Ridgway OBE, Assistant Head Plans for Ground Manoeuvre Capability

Leading the way amongst the Army’s sustainable initiatives, electrification of the battlefield will increase operational advantage and change the way land forces operate in the future. Electric vehicles will enable significant advances in stealth mode capabilities with reduced thermal and noise signature. 

The move to electrification of vehicles is underpinned by the fact that, on the battlefield of the future, military land capabilities will become increasingly ‘power hungry’ with the introduction of initiatives such as new weapons, active protection, and an increase in computer processing. The performance and effectiveness of these new capabilities will depend on the ability to power, charge and sustain them.

Colonel Simon Ridgway OBE, Assistant Head Plans for Ground Manoeuvre Capability, said, 

“This approach to electrification will set out how the Army intends to take advantage of the opportunities provided by sustainable technology for land capabilities. 

“It will ensure the Army’s electrical infrastructure is ready to meet the electrical demand required on the battlefield of the future. Delivering effect needs the right power, in the right place, at the right time. Using hybrid vehicles will make it easier to get the power to where it needs to be.”

The Army has already invested £10million fitting hybrid electric drives to Man SV, Jackal and Foxhound vehicles with their performance currently being evaluated. Trials of pre-production models are due to take place, including assessments on how to fully recharge electric uncrewed, autonomous systems. The hybrid vehicles are due to be rolled out to the Field Army for use in training and on operations.