Car manufacturers are all in the race to go eco these days, and now even the world’s armies are getting in on the act.
Making military transport greener is a no-brainer — as a nation’s economies suffer, their equipment needs to be more efficient and cheaper to run, despite the need for increasingly heavy armour to protect soldiers from new threats.
On a more basic note, fuel-efficiency is key when troops are deployed in remote destinations, and fuel needs to be shipped in. But even just fuelling the vehicles that fuel the tanks and fighting vehicles is a logistical nightmare, points out Paul Skalny, Director at the U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC):
“In many cases, 70 per cent of the bulk tonnage we take to war is fuel. So anything we can do to increase the fuel efficiency of our platforms is critical.”
Recently, TARDEC showed off a collection of eco-friendly military vehicles to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, including a diesel-electric hybrid that gives the car up to six miles of silent mobility.
The U.S. Army isn’t the only one to go eco, though, other forward-thinking armed forces are thinking ahead, teaming up with civilian companies to develop more ecologically — and economically — sound ways of transporting their troops. The British Army is funding projects that fit with its future visions, including reducing operational dependency on fossil fuels.
Out are the diesel-guzzling tank and jet fighter, in are vehicles with a hybrid drivetrain, and even solar-powered ones. The idea for the future protective vehicle is to make them more lightweight but as strong as current battle vehicles. And of course, hybrid tanks have the additional advantage of a silent and stealthy transit.
So eco-friendly military vehicles will be more efficient — and improve the safety of troops on the battlefield.