The U.S. Army’s Operational Energy program focuses on the energy and associated systems, information, and processes required to train, move, and sustain forces and systems for military operations. The Army Operational Energy program is fully nested with the Army Strategy and Army Vision, working to power the Army of the present and the future.

In 2018, the Army reorganized its capability development and acquisition processes by establishing Army Futures Command (AFC). The AFC acknowledged and affirmed energy to be a cross-cutting enabler critical to the success of each of AFC’s eight cross-functional teams dedicated to the Army’s six modernization priorities. AFC is organizing to synchronize and prioritize investments in power and energy.

The U.S. Army is the most dominant land force on Earth and needs to remain as such. The capabilities of the country’s adversaries, mainly those of Russia and China, are improving. Enemy precision fires and asymmetric threats in particular put our lines of communication, strategic support areas, logistics hubs, and resupply routes at increased risk. The notion of the rear secure area is much less certain. Future weapons, vehicles, and battlefield operating systems will be more powerful, increasing capability, lethality and protection for our warfighters, but must still be powered. Operational energy helps to maintain battlefield dominance by ensuring the warfighter has the energy and power required to press forward.

Energy is a key enabler critical to all military functions and operations. Innovation in energy must therefore keep pace with modernization. The Army is improving operational energy resilience by upgrading Soldier equipment and weapon systems, and preserving the ability to maneuver longer distances independent of resupply. We accomplish this through aggressive planning, skilled management, improved power generation to extend operation range and fuel efficiency, increased silent watch, improved part and component reliability, and significantly reduced sustainment burden. The Army is partnering with sister Services, industry, and academia to research and develop innovative solutions to increase energy resilience, extend maneuver range, and increase the operational endurance of the warfighter. By doing this, we afford commanders in the field more options. Increased energy resilience reduces the frequency of operational pauses and enables Army forces to maintain the initiative.

In support of Readiness, the Army is upgrading or replacing combat vehicle fleets to overcome the challenges posed by the weight of increased armor and the power requirements of modern systems. Upgrades include restoring mobility and providing enough electrical power for all current and future systems while providing a means to export power to other systems or individual Soldier equipment. The following are examples of the Army’s Operational Energy related programs supporting efforts to enhance readiness:

Improved Stryker Improved Stryker: Upgraded powertrains and improved electrical systems restore original mobility while providing sufficient electrical power for all current and planned capabilities and enabling 4,000 watts of exportable electrical power.

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Joint Light Tactical Vehicle: Replaces the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle to provide modern levels of protection in a highly mobile platform with better ton-miles per gallon performance and reduced fuel consumption at idle.

Bradley Infantry Fighting VehicleBradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle: Improved automotive and electrical power restore mobility lost to weight increases while providing sufficient electrical power for current and future capabilities.

Paladin Self-Propelled HowitzerPaladin Self-Propelled Howitzer: New hull and powertrain have mobility and protection capabilities, and the 70,000 watt electrical power system replaces the hydraulic systems with electric motors, improving accuracy and reliability.

Improved Abrams Main Battle Tank Improved Abrams Main Battle Tank: Upgrades increase electrical capabilities, and the Auxiliary Power Unit provides power at the halt that is expected to reduce fuel consumption by up to 8% over a combat day.

The Army Modernization Strategy provides a roadmap to transform the Army into a multi-domain force by 2035, to meet its enduring responsibility as part of the Joint Force to provide for the defense of the United States, and to retain its position as the globally dominant land power. The Army priority will shift to Modernization in mid-2022, at which time new technologies will be ready to transition to systems the Army can procure and field.

To advance Modernization, the Army is focused on the six priorities outlined in the Army Modernization Strategy; long range precision fires, next generation combat vehicles, future vertical lift aircraft, Army network technologies, air and missile defense capabilities, and Soldier lethality. We are developing new systems that extend range and endurance, can power new capabilities, and reduce consumption while improving reliability.

The Army priority will shift to Modernization in mid-2022, at which time new technologies will be ready to transition to systems the Army can procure and field. Operational Energy is a significant component of this Modernization priority. The driving force behind Army Modernization is the Army Futures Command (AFC).

The Army established the AFC in 2018 to reform the Army’s acquisition process through unity of command, unity of effort, and increased accountability. AFC reached full operational capability in July 2019.

By streamlining the Army’s modernization efforts under a single command, the AFC enables Soldiers and civilians to work more efficiently and effectively towards delivering the technology which further enables our forces to fight, move, communicate, protect and sustain better than all others.

The AFC established eight Cross-Functional Teams (CFT’s) dedicated to managing and accessing the science and technology, and research and development efforts of the Army’s six Modernization Priorities. Each CFT uses technical experimentation and demonstrations, in conjunction with increased engagement with industry and commercial sector partners, to inform prototype development and reduce the requirement process.

Soldier Power

The Army is continuing to advance power and energy technologies for the dismounted Soldier, which will reduce the Soldier’s weight and cognitive burdens through improved architectures, improved energy density storage, and multi-option lightweight recharging options. Program Executive Office, or PEO, Soldier is managing these developments through their adaptive squad architecture. Under the Adaptive Soldier Architecture, the Army is establishing common standards for power management, data management, physical interfaces, and size, space, and weight. This is a significant effort that directly supports Army Soldiers and enhances mission readiness.

Improved Turbine Engine

The Improved Turbine Engine (ITE) is a 3,000 Shaft Horse Power (SHP) turbo shaft engine that will replace the T700 family of engines for the UH-60 BLACK HAWK and AH-64 Apache fleets, which comprise 70% of the total Army helicopter fleet. The ITEP is also planned to outfit the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA). The current T700-GE-701D is a 2000 SHP engine which originated in the 1970s and no longer retains significant power growth potential. The ITE provides significantly more power and fuel efficiency, enabling the aircraft to fly faster, further, longer, and at higher altitudes with greater payloads.

Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle

The Army released a Request for Proposal for prototypes of the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) to replace the Bradley family of fighting vehicles. One of the requirements for the OMFV is that the vehicle has sufficient power for automotive and electrical purposes, as well as the ability to generate more onboard power to support new capabilities in the future.

Smart Power

The Army is exploring and investing in numerous electrification solutions to power Army forces on the future battlefield. For instance, the Army is experimenting with intelligent power distribution systems capable of managing a diverse set of loads and assets in a complex tactical microgrid. The Army Futures Command Cross-Functional Team (CFT) for Army Network is working to standardize intelligent power distribution systems which will serve the power requirements of Army Command Posts (CP) by increasing interoperability while reducing CP vulnerability, such as reducing physical, electromagnetic, and power signatures. The Army is also investing in technology and innovation in battlefield electrification architectures. For example, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s (CCDC) Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) developed the Tactical Vehicle Electrification Kit (TVEK) which employs intelligent anti-idle supervisory controls to decrease overall fuel consumption by 15-25% and is architected to enable grid connectivity.

The Army is focused on improving readiness and modernizing Army forces to achieve multi-domain dominance against any global foe by 2035.

Correspondingly, the Army is enthusiastically open to ideas and innovation from private industry and small business. If you are an entrepreneur and would like to share your ideas and innovation with the Army, particularly with technology that supports microgrid resilience and the six Army modernization priorities, please visit the Army Office of Small Business Programs and follow the easy 11 step guide with helpful hyperlinks under “How to Do Business with the Army” button.

Updated as of June 2021