Magazine article National Defense

Marine Corps Looking at Hybrid ATVs to Boost Battlefield Range

Magazine article National Defense

Marine Corps Looking at Hybrid ATVs to Boost Battlefield Range

Article excerpt

* The Marine Corps is looking to add hybrid all-terrain vehicles to its inventory to reduce energy dependence and increase the operational reach of its forces on the battlefield, said service officials.

The acquisition of hybrid technology is part of the service's Expeditionary Force 21 strategy, a 10-year plan that began in 2014. It calls for a return to the service's core mission of being "light enough to get to the crisis quickly yet able to accomplish the mission or provide time and options prior to the arrival of additional forces," the document said. The three main goals of the service are to be fast, austere and lethal, it said.

"The Marine Corps is pushing back to its expeditionary roots," said Col. James Caley, director of the Marine Corps' expeditionary energy office. "We're trying to get back to the ability of supporting distributed operations from the sea base."

This year at the expeditionary energy concept (E2C) technology demonstration scheduled for late June at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, the service is concentrating on enhancing its company landing team. Acquiring hybrid ATVs would be a step in that direction, Caley said. The service is also considering purely electric platforms.

Prototypes from three different industry participants--MTAG International, MILSPRAY Military Technologies and Bombarther Recreational Products --will be showcased and assessed by service engineers. The Army's Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) will also demonstrate a vehicle it has developed.

Following the demonstration, promising technologies will be evaluated in a controlled lab environment and then placed in the hands of Marines for field-testing in combat conditions, according to the E2C request for information. Lab and field evaluations will inform requirement development, it said.

The objective is to build a landing team that the service can insert 100 miles deep behind enemy lines and make them more effective by reducing resupply requirements, Caley said in an interview with National Defense.

"When you insert them deep, you don't insert them with a lot of gear," he said. "If you have to carry everything that you have for a week or two weeks on your back, that's a lot of weight. Whereas, if we can give them something like an ATV that uses as little fuel as possible then they can use that for their own internal logistics; they can use it to maneuver between two sites that are dispersed on the battlefield; [and] they can use it for casualty evacuation." The vehicles could also be employed in reconnaissance missions, Caley said.

Additionally, the Marine Corps hopes that using hybrid technology on the ground will reduce the number of resupply missions to troops via helicopters and MV-22 Ospreys, he said. Limiting those missions lowers the risk of an aircraft crashing or coming under enemy fire. A fatal UH-1Y helicopter crash in Nepal during a humanitarian mission in May following a series of deadly earthquakes demonstrated why preventative measures to avoid accidents are so important, he said.

Capt. Anthony Ripley, science and technology lead at the expeditionary energy office, said the focus on hybrid ATVs initially stemmed from a Marine Corps infantry battalion statement of need. It described the necessity for a reliable, easily maintained and inexpensive vehicle to support dispersed and disaggregated operations, he said.

In addition to those three requirements, the service has several technical specifications listed in its RFI. The request stipulates that gross vehicle weight is 7,800 pounds or less--including diree crewmembers, mission payload and shoring. The platform must be transportable by an MV-22 and have a 300 plus miles range on unimproved road without fuel resupply. However, purely electric vehicles with less range will be considered.

Further, if not purely electric, the vehicles must be compatible with military fuels such as JP-8, JP-5, F-24--which is a jet propellant with additives--and diesel. …

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