What if an M1 Abrams tank could push into enemy territory with greater range due to needing less fuel and logistics support? What if armored vehicles could hide from enemy detection without emitting a heat or noise signature? This might enable clandestine reconnaissance missions, enable surprise attacks, or allow focused attention of computing, communications, networking and weapons.
These advancements could become reality in part due to the Army’s new Climate Strategy.
One highlight in the Climate Strategy relates to hybridizing commercial, non-tactical, and tactical vehicles with electric propulsion. Another key point relates to the ways that hybridized heavy combat vehicles could improve tactical performance and even save lives in combat.
“While these steps are focused on reducing greenhouse gasses, every one of these steps is going to make us a better and more effective fighting force,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment Paul Farnan.
Mechanized operations could be streamlined and improved if fuel requirements can be reduced. Armored vehicles often require significant fuel stores and logistics support. Fuel transportation can also be risky and create vulnerabilities. The ability to operate with less fuel and support could create new tactical advantages, Farnan said.
“What we are looking for is ways to more effectively enhance our force and improve how we are able to fight wars,” he said. “If we reduce the amount of fuel required, there is less of a logistical tail line that we will have to supply our forces. This enables greater on-station time for forces.”
There are other tactical advantages as well, such as the prospect of “silent watch.” A hybridized vehicle can operate with the ability to quietly linger in a high-risk area without emitting an acoustic or thermal signature. This allows the vehicle to run while saving fuel, but also helps advancing forces remain less detectable to enemy sensors.
This would create a significant tactical advantage for scouting and reconnaissance or surprise attacks. Armored vehicles can be difficult to hide, but if a tank could linger beneath a thick forest of trees and operate while remaining entirely silent and not emitting heat, the combat advantages would be enormous.
Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.
Image: U.S. Army Flickr.