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BAE Systems Unveils Hybrid Electric Drive System for Future Combat Systems

BAE Systems demonstrated the first hybrid electric drive system for ground combat vehicles as part of the US Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) program.

Creation of the hybrid electric drive system, led by BAE Systems, is a joint development with General Dynamics Land Systems in partnership with the Army and the FCS Lead Systems Integrator team of Boeing and Science Applications International Corp.

The FCS Manned Ground Vehicles (MGV) family of eight vehicles is the first ever planned operational Army suite of ground combat vehicles to use hybrid electric technology. The first use of the hybrid electric drive technology will be in the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) - the lead FCS ground combat vehicle slated to begin initial production in 2008. The NLOS-C, designed and built by BAE Systems - in partnership with General Dynamics Land Systems -- is a fully automated, 155mm self-propelled howitzer.

FCS is the U.S. Army's principle modernization program, which is made up of a family of manned and unmanned ground and air systems, and sensors connected by a common network.

The test held today in Santa Clara marks a significant milestone in technological maturity of the hybrid electric drive system. Today's test is the first evaluation of the complete MGV hybrid electric system consisting of the engine, generator, generator dissipater controller, traction drive system, energy storage system, and cooling subsystem. The hybrid electric drive is the cornerstone of integrated power management designed to meet the demands of future ground combat vehicles in a networked environment while allowing the tailoring of power and cooling dictated by the mission.

"This is an extraordinary milestone for the FCS Program," said Hugo Croft, vice president, FCS and Advanced Programs at BAE Systems. "Teamwork and hard work by the best of industry enabled the integration of these hybrid drive components. The result is a hybrid electric drive system with improved fuel economy and a resultant reduction in the Army's logistics footprint. Its advanced energy storage, electric traction drive, power generation, regenerative braking, and integrated power management technology all serve to provide our warfighter's increased performance and unprecedented flexibility."

"The integration of this fuel-saving, hybrid electric propulsion system is another illustration of the benefits of the partnership between the FCS 'best of industry' team and the U.S. Army to accelerate the development and delivery of next generation technologies to our nation's soldiers," said Dennis Muilenburg, vice president-general manager, Boeing Combat Systems, and FCS program manager. "This system will be common to all FCS Manned Ground Vehicles which will require less fuel than current force vehicles and lower overall maintenance costs, and is further evidence that FCS technologies are on track and our team is ready to move into initial production in 2008."

Other advantages over currently fielded, conventional combat vehicle power train systems include:
  • Greatly increased power for integration of high efficiency electric drives, sensors, and computing systems
  • Exportable electric power that reduces logistics burden for towed generators
  • Enhanced low speed maneuverability
  • Smaller overall vehicle profile for concealment
  • Low acoustic signature and quiet ride
  • Embedded diagnostics/prognostics permitting maintainers to directly determine the source of faults and advanced planning for unscheduled maintenance.
  • Produces high amounts of electrical power - equivalent to the demand of 300 typical American homes and over 10 times that provided by a current force vehicle. There is sufficient electric power to enable the use of future high power technologies.
In addition, the MGV design allows for future improvements by decoupling the power generation unit from the drive train architecture. The existing power generation unit can simply be replaced by a fuel cell, for example, once this technology has matured to further improve fuel consumption, acoustic signature, and mobility performance.

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