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05 Dec 11. The U.S. military is the single largest consumer of energy in the world. As such, the volatility of the international oil markets represents a significant strategic risk to the operational capabilities of the U.S. Armed Forces. Realizing the need to mitigate this strategic vulnerability, U.S. military leaders are actively promoting the development of new technologies, including fuel cells. The increased emphasis on energy security and efficiency, particularly under the complex and challenging operational conditions encountered in remote battlefield environments such as Afghanistan, represents a significant opportunity for fuel cell manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). According to a recent report from Pike Research, shipments of fuel cells for military applications will increase to more than 272,000 in 2017, from just over 1,200 in 2011. “Fuel cells will be used in a range of applications by military agencies, including stationary power, mobile electric power, auxiliary power units, unmanned vehicles, and non-tactical vehicles,” says research director Kerry-Ann
Adamson. “The largest opportunities for military fuel cells, however, lie in soldier wearable and portable power applications for devices such as radios, ruggedized computers, and night-vision goggles, in which fuel cells are primarily used as a replacement for portable batteries, and in power for unmanned sensors and surveillance systems.” The strongest drivers for the adoption of fuel cells by the world’s armed forces are performance and energy density, particularly for use by individual troopers. On average, each soldier carries around nine pounds of disposable batteries in their kit, used for powering a range of portable electronics such as imaging and communications equipment. The burden on today’s soldiers to carry more and more high-tech equipment is increasing, and the batteries required to power all this equipment already constitutes an impractical percentage of total weight. Fuel cells, with a far greater energy density than conventional military batteries, represent an excellent means of lightening the load for soldiers and systems in the field. Nevertheless, fuel cell manufacturers face formidable barriers in their pursuit of the military market. Military users are the world’s most demanding customers for fuel cells and, while they will be less price sensitive than the commercial market in the near term, their performance and production scale requirements may ultimately prove too difficult for some vendors to meet. Pike Research’s report, “Fuel Cells for Military Applications”, examines the stationary, transport, and portable power applications for fuel cell technologies currently being explored and validated by the U.S. Department of Defense, including a detailed analysis of market drivers as well as potential barriers to adoption. Forecasts through 2017 are also provided for those technologies and applications that are deemed as offering a realistic possibility of being deployed within that timeframe. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website. (Source: Yahoo!/BUSINESS WIRE)

07 Dec 11. The Department of Defense is endeavoring to safeguard its portfolio of weapon acquisition programs as it prepares to absorb hundreds of billions of dollars worth of budget cuts over the next decade. These cuts stem from a debt-reduction plan agreed upon by Congress last summer known as the Budget Control Act of 2011, though the precise scope of the cuts facing the Pentagon budget remains to be seen. The DoD’s fiscal situation is dire news for a force attempting to rebuild and modernize after a decade of war, according to Forecast International’s latest analysis of the U.S. defense market. “The budget debate raises some serious questions about many of the departm

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