U.S. Army Sees Itself Deploying All-Electric Tank Brigades in Ten Years

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We seem to be getting more and more used to the idea that electric propulsion is going to be the future of transportation, but not that many people are thinking about what that means for military vehicles.
Well, they are, but they simply don't like talking too much about it. You know, just in case the wrong person might be listening. These kind of projects are usually very hush-hush, and to get to know more about them requires a risky infiltration into one of the military's secret research labs. Assuming you know their secret location.

But talking at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual meeting, Donald Sando, the Maneuver Center of Excellence’s deputy to the commanding general shed some light on what the Army's stance is regarding electric vehicles.

“In 10 years, some of our brigade combat teams will be all-electric,” he said, quoted by Defense News. “That’s a generational change. It’s significant; and we’re going to do it; and we’re going to need industry’s help. There’s plenty of people who say we can’t do it.”

The transition will definitely not be easy. The infrastructure has been set up for using gas as fuel for so long, it will require massive both logistical and financial efforts. And it won't happen overnight, so expect those all-electric brigades ten years from now to be test units - the exception rather than the norm.

Sando also mentioned we shouldn't expect to see current vehicles with electric powertrains. “Does that mean in 10 years, the Abrams tank will be fully electric? No, we’re going to replace it,” suggesting the Army would embrace the proven technique of building EVs - whatever their nature - from scratch instead of trying to adapt an existing design.

He's well aware of the importance of the commercial automotive industry in this process and suggests the Army should become its partner. It would not pioneer new technologies, however, but rather employ the tried-and-tested ones for improved reliability in the field.

In 15 to 20 years, it‘s hard to believe if industry moved in the direction of electric-powered vehicles that the Army would not be somewhere near there,” said Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins, the commander of Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. “Its brigade combat team consumes 2,000 gallons of fuel per day. We’ve got to think about other ways.”

Given the current state of EVs, it's pretty hard to imagine a heavily-armored battle tank weighing tens of tons with a battery-powered electric drivetrain. It's not that it couldn't move it - there were electric tanks even before WWII, but they had onboard generators - but the range must be drastically limited. And long reload times also make the tank a sitting target for much too long.

However, the Army seems to be determined to go down this path, which means we might get to see more rapid technological development in the commercial sector as well.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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