24 Aug 05. A contract has been placed by Atkins, the FRES Systems House, with General Dynamics (GD) UK Ltd for one of the Chassis Concept Technology Demonstrator Programmes (TDP). The intention is to demonstrate the readiness of electric drive technology, and to enable us to better understand the challenges of integrating potential electronic architecture solutions onto a vehicle chassis. The contract represents another step forward in a key programme. The MoD is looking at some cutting edge technologies, but they must be thoroughly understood and de-risked before committing to use them. This contract – and others to be placed in due course – exemplify the way in which the Defence Procurement Agency is improving its approach, spending money in the early programme phases so that MoD is much better informed about the opportunities and risks offered by advanced technologies. FRES CC TDP is an 18-month programme to demonstrate the readiness of in-hub electric-drive and its ability to meet the FRES platform requirements, as well as the integration of a third party Electronic Architecture (EA) into the chassis. It is also an opportunity for the team to demonstrate its ability to work with Atkins in meeting the programme’s timeline and information requirements for Main Gate approval. General Dynamics’ Advanced Hybrid Electric Drive (AHED) 8×8 will provide a baseline from which to evaluate the integration challenges and potential benefits of transformational technologies for the Future Rapid Effect System programme. Developed by General Dynamics, the AHED already has over 4200 km of road and cross-country testing. General Dynamics intends to conduct over 4500 km of additional reliability testing for the FRES CC TDP. Its interchangeable modular in-hub electric drive, and hybrid power architecture will dramatically reduce logistics footprint and whole life cost of ownership associated with unique components, large repair part inventory and training for both operators and maintenance personnel.
“We are delighted to have won a FRES Chassis Concept TDP contract,” said Sandy Wilson president and managing director of General Dynamics UK Limited. “AHED provides a ‘best value’ point of departure for designing a FRES family of vehicles that is based on a common chassis and sub-systems for a family of vehicles fleet. The design flexibility enabled by the open architecture and on-board power provide a platform that can be adapted to the FRES roles in a variety of configurations, depending on the mission or requirement profile.
“Our target is to deliver demonstrable evidence to our customer that in-hub electric-drive is mature enough to meet the FRES requirement and that the hybrid power architecture can be successfully integrated with an open standards electronic architecture. Further, this is an excellent opportunity for the customer to evaluate the transformational benefits of a hybrid-electric drive that offers track-like performance at wheeled vehicle costs, which has the capability to quickly balance or shift power to mission systems that may have different requirements based on mission profile. This optimises performance for fuel efficiency, and removes traditional armoured fighting-vehicle drive line constraints, which will significantly reduce the whole-life cost of ownership.
BAE SYSTEMS told BATTLESPACE that the company has been asked to renegotiate its offering for the chassis TDP to provide electric drive technology for both wheeled and tracked vehicles. A contract is expected in due course
TDP contracts have recently been placed with Dstl for Capacity and Stowage and with Akers Krutbruk for Hard Kill Defensive Aids Suitesm(HKDAS). Other TDPs are currently being negotiated or planned. Concluding the contracts for the package of TDPs will mark a real step forward for FRES.
Comment; Rumours on the street say, “Don’t hold your breath over FRES!” A number of sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the requirement is