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Air assault troops experiment with Hybrid Humvee

By Gary Sheftick

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 19, 2005) -- The Hybrid Electric Humvee, which can operate in silent mode on battery power alone, was run through a number of field assessments Sept. 26 to Oct. 3 by Soldiers at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Soldiers drove the Humvee for six miles on only battery power, convoyed in the hybrid (electric-diesel) mode, and used the vehicle’s electrical system to power a battalion tactical operations center. It was the first phase of the vehicle’s Military Utility Assessment, conducted during a training exercise by Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1/501st Infantry, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

Follow-on assessments for the HE Humvee are scheduled to begin Nov. 21 at Fort Benning, Ga. Two of the Humvees will take part in an Air Assault Expeditionary Force experiment.

The hybrid vehicle is a bit heavier than a normal Humvee; it runs quiet on electric power and can go 10 kilometers on battery power alone, said Maj. John Williamson of the Soldiers Battle Lab at Fort Benning. He said one of the limitations of the vehicle is that it can’t ford a deep stream because the power-generating batteries are located low on the vehicle’s frame.

The Hybrid Electric Humvee is being developed by the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren, Mich. Two prototypes participated in the exercise at Fort Campbell, and another was on display the following week at the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army in Washington, D.C.

Two of the Soldiers who participated in the Humvee’s assessment at Fort Campbell were on hand at AUSA to help man the display and explain how the vehicle operates.

The HE Humvee has a small, lightweight 2.2-liter diesel engine and a 75 kW brushless DC generator to provide electric power for the wheel-drive motors. The vehicle also has an auxiliary power distribution system for export of clean power in the amount of 10 kW. If additional power is required, provision is made to install a second APDS, TARDEC officials said

“It’s a prototype and has faults,” admitted Staff Sgt. Michelangelo Merksamer, of HHC, 1/506th Infantry, who experimented with the vehicle at Fort Campbell and manned the exhibit at AUSA. He explained that the field assessments were designed to work out the bugs.

“It has some applications down the road once you work things out,” he said.

Spc. Jeffrey Hammes of the same unit said the vehicle just doesn’t yet quite handle like a Humvee.

In the silent electric mode, the vehicle crawls, and in the hybrid mode the throttle sometimes sticks at 25 miles per hour, he said.

Soldiers liked the “Silent Watch” capability that allows the Humvee to set in a battle position at night and operate radios, battery chargers and other devices without the need to periodically run the engine to charge the battery, they said.

The vehicle's engine generator and battery systems can provide 75 kilowatts of continuous power and up to 250 kW of peak power, according to TARDEC engineers. This power is available from the vehicle’s generator and battery-storage system, without towing any additional generator in a trailer behind the vehicle.

The Hybrid Electric Humvees are considered simply demonstrator units right now, said a TARDEC spokesman, adding that there are no plans yet to field the vehicle.

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