UK — New batteries lighten load for troops in Afghanistan

Sol­diers on oper­a­tions will be car­ry­ing lighter bat­ter­ies from this autumn as tech­nol­o­gy con­tin­ues to make life eas­i­er on the front line.

The new bat­ter­ies (right) will light­en the load for troops on the front line in Afghanistan
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Rapid devel­op­ment of lithi­um car­bon mono­flu­o­ride (LiCFx) tech­nol­o­gy means new bat­ter­ies for the Bow­man VHF radio sys­tem will be lighter and last longer com­pared to bat­ter­ies cur­rent­ly in use. 

Project Man­ag­er Pete Flow­ers of Defence Equip­ment & Support’s (DE&S’s) Inte­grat­ed Sol­dier Sys­tems Exec­u­tive (ISSE) said. 

“An eight-strong sec­tion of troops will soon be car­ry­ing two LiCFx pri­ma­ry bat­ter­ies, each weigh­ing around 800g, to pow­er radios. 

“At the moment they car­ry 12 of the sec­ondary bat­ter­ies, which each weigh 1.13kg, for a 48-hour mis­sion. For the sec­tion, the new bat­ter­ies will mean a reduc­tion of near­ly 12kg. 

“On longer-dura­tion, min­i­mal­ly-sup­port­ed mis­sions, where weight is a decid­ing fac­tor, these new pri­ma­ry bat­ter­ies give a lighter option. 

“They also fit in with ISSE aspi­ra­tions to give the front line com­man­der tools to tai­lor his equip­ment to the mis­sion in hand.” 

A con­tract has been placed for 2,000 pri­ma­ry bat­ter­ies which will be deliv­ered to the­atre by next month. 

Inves­ti­ga­tions are also being con­duct­ed into fur­ther uses of LiCFx technology. 

Work on the bat­ter­ies began last sum­mer. Gary Wade of DE&S’s Pro­grammes and Tech­nol­o­gy Group said: 

“Under a mech­a­nism known as Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Rapid Assis­tance to Oper­a­tions — STRATOS — the work was ini­ti­at­ed because of the poten­tial ben­e­fit to cur­rent operations. 

“Strong spon­sor­ship and ear­ly engage­ment with DE&S and user rep­re­sen­ta­tives enabled a robust research busi­ness case to be approved from RfR2 ‘for­mal­ly con­flict pre­ven­tion’ fund­ing, and ulti­mate­ly this proved cru­cial in exploit­ing QinetiQ’s excel­lent innovation.” 

The Com­mand Sup­port Devel­op­ment Cen­tre (CSDC) led the way with user input on design and per­for­mance while ABSL Pow­er Solu­tions pack­aged the tech­nol­o­gy into a stan­dard Bow­man bat­tery case. 

A sec­ond phase of fund­ing helped to mass pro­duce the bat­ter­ies and make key com­po­nents cheap­er. Mr Flow­ers added: 

“This is an exam­ple of how DE&S pulls research into the sup­pli­er base, bridg­ing the ‘val­ley of death’ between research, ideas and growth, and tech­nol­o­gy delivery.” 

This arti­cle is tak­en from the August 2010 edi­tion of desider — the mag­a­zine for Defence Equip­ment and Support. 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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