FUEL SUPPLY DEBATE IS REVISITED FOLLOWING IRAQ EXPERIENCE
4 Apr 03. A number of publications, including the Financial Times have discussed the use of hybrid drive and electric drive systems to minimise the huge cost, now estimated at $700 per gallon and logistics (fuel accounts for some 50% of logistical movements) during the Iraq conflict.
Whilst it is true that extensive trails on hybrid vehicles have taken place with companies such as PEI, Stewart & Stevenson, BAE SYSTEMS and Oshkosh, the technology used on the trucks, hybrid-drive is more suited to bus and utility applications than military. This is because the energy is only stored when the vehicle brakes and or stops, hence the suitability for buses. The electric drive systems on HUMVEEs are currently undergoing trials.
In the last Gulf conflict fuel accounted for 50% of logistic movements and the jet fuel derivative used has too high sulphur content for hybrid-drive systems, another problem.
Other techniques include providing lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles in the short term. In the long-term, hybrid-drive type systems are likely to enter service with specialist vehicles only.
We covered the issue last year in Scott Gourley’s excellent article, ‘U.S. ARMY SEEKS TO ACCELERATE FIELDING OF HYBRID ELECTRIC TECHNOLOGY by Scott R. Gourley (in Monterey, California’)
Service leadership within the U.S. Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) is seeking to accelerate the application and fielding of hybrid electric vehicle drive technologies as a critical enabler of service “Transformation” initiatives.
“Fuel efficiency is absolutely key for us to be able to reduce the logistics footprint in the future,” explains Major General N. Ross Thompson III. As the Commanding General of TACOM, Thompson recently provided his command’s perspective to attendees at the 2002 National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Tactical Wheeled Vehicles Conference in Monterey, California.
Referring to the January 2001 findings of the U.S. Defense Science Board, Thompson revealed that six out of the nine historically-derived “Principles of War” would be positively impacted by increased fuel efficiency in future U.S. combat vehicle systems.
Quoting from the Executive Summary of the Defense Science Board findings, Thompson said that “The United States uses more petroleum each year than the next five largest consuming nations combined. Military fuel consumption for aircraft, ships, ground vehicles and facilities makes the DoD [Department of Defense] the single largest consumer of petroleum in America, perhaps in the world. Ten years after the Cold War, over seventy percent of the tonnage required to position today’s Army into battle is fuel.”
The 70 percent figure is not just for Army-specific requirements but also reflects both ship and aircraft fuel required for international ground force deployment.
“The Army directly uses 200 million dollars of fuel every year or 300 million gallons,” Thompson read, adding that “We have 20,000 POL [Petroleum/Oil/Lubricants] related soldiers at about – active duty – about $100,000 per year if you cost it out. [And] about 40,000 reserve component POL soldiers at about $30,000 per year. So what do we spend on fuel? Not costs per gallon. We spend about 3.5 billion dollars a year of the Army’s TOA to fuel the force.”
Thompson emphasized the critical need to reduce the fuel burden by presenting the results of a government study that postulated on a Southwest Asia deployment scenario involving approximately 400,000 soldiers. Over a 20 day operational slice, more than 30 percent of the total logistics tonnage movement requirements involved water. However, 39 percent of the tonnage was fuel.
“Now you can pick a different scenario in a different part of the world – and I’ve looked at a lot of them – but just about every scenario that you look at has somewhere between 60 and 90 percent of the short tons and l