New Technology Supports the DoD’s Energy Security Efforts

Fuel is one of the top three logistics drivers on the battlefield, along with water and ammunition. Fuel powers the vehicles that mobilize troops and keep communications and supply chains running, and is used in the generators that power forward operating bases. Transporting fuel to the front lines, however, has become extremely costly in both lives and dollars.

The Oshkosh Defense ProPulse hybrid-electric drive technology powers the the Mobile Land- Based Phalanx Weapon System (MLPWS), which consists of the Oshkosh HEMTT A3 equipped with Raytheon’s point-defense weapon for detecting and destroying incoming aerial threats.
In Afghanistan, coalition fuel convoys have increasingly become targets for improvised explosive devices (IED) and other attacks. These convoys — many of which are already hauling fuel in from other countries — must travel hundreds of miles across Afghanistan’s unimproved road networks to reach allied forces scattered throughout the country. Even without enemy threats, fuel convoys face the ever-present challenge of traversing severe terrain and overcoming adverse weather conditions, particularly in mountainous regions. The deadly attacks have only made the jobs of the fuel transporters more difficult, creating the need to provide additional armed escorts to accompany them.

The existing levels of fuel usage also have become a financial concern, particularly as Department of Defense (DoD) leadership looks at cuts in defense spending. The 2009 Deloitte study “Energy Security — America’s Best Defense” reports that the military may pay $2 to $3 per gallon of fuel, but that cost jumps to about $15 per gallon once the fuel has reached its final destination. The Pentagon has said, in some cases, the fully burdened cost of fuel in theater can even be as much as $400 per gallon. Additionally, the DoD uses about 4.6 billion gallons of fuel annually, according to a Brookings Institution research paper on the DoD’s energy strategy.

ProPulse Diesel-Electric Solution

During Energy Awareness Month in October 2010, the DoD held the Pentagon Energy Security Event to promote its energy-security initiatives. Oshkosh Defense was among those invited to participate because of the company’s progress in, and commitment to, seeking new and innovative ways to reduce energy demands in the field. Oshkosh’s display at the Pentagon included a promising development in this area, called the Oshkosh ProPulse® diesel-electric hybrid drive system.

The ProPulse technology addresses energy security by improving the fuel efficiency of military tactical wheeled vehicles by up to 20 percent while also providing as much as 120 kW of exportable military-grade power — enough to power a command center, airfield, or city block.