WASHINGTON — The Army has wrapped up an industry demonstration of a variety of possible Electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicles (eLRV), but the future of the program remains uncertain due to the absence of funding.
The Maneuver Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate’s (MCDID) Maneuver Requirements Division (MRD) in conjunction with the Army’s product lead for Ground Mobility Vehicles (PL GMV) held a demonstration event for industry with electric vehicles that could perform the reconnaissance mission at Fort Benning, Georgia, last week, according to a May 21 service statement.
Ten vendors brought electric vehicles so the Army could test the off-road capability, define goals and inform possible solutions with feedback from soldiers who would operate such vehicles, the statement noted.
The Army analyzed two pure electric demonstrators and several internal combustion engine demonstrators “that exhibit current military integrated cab structures and architectures for potential eLRV program pursuit,” MCDID told Defense News in a separate statement.
The Army will take the feedback to inform what could be a future prototyping program. The service will take data collected from the demonstration and elsewhere to help define characteristics and a prepare a draft request for prototype proposals the service anticipates releasing this summer, the May 21 statement added.
The Army’s requirements leaders would like to better understand how recharging such systems would work on the battlefield and in austere conditions.
General Motors Defense said earlier this month it had provided one of its Infantry Squad Vehicles outfitted with electric power to the demonstration and Polaris is said to have included a vehicle for the demonstration as well.
The Army decided to look into a possible program due to the need for a light reconnaissance vehicle for Infantry Brigade Combat Teams. The motivation for an all-electric vehicle is rooted in the benefits electric capability brings both tactically and operationally including increased duration.
“Through nontraditional powertrain electrification, the eLRV would provide enhanced mobility, automotive performance, on-demand silent operation, lethality, protection, mission load capacity, and onboard power for a six-Soldier Scout Squad with their associated equipment to conduct combinations of mounted and dismounted Reconnaissance and Surveillance (R&S) missions for the IBCT for extended durations without the need for resupply,” leaders from the MCDID told Defense News.
The Army, according to officials, sees the new vehicles as the “perfect platform” to serve as the first electrified ground vehicle in the Army fleet. A prototype could inform how to electrify multiple platforms across the fleet.
While the vehicle is a possible prototype “for a fully electric, range extended electric or hybrid-electric tactical vehicle,” Army officials told Defense News, there is no funding for such a program yet.
Should funding become available for the program, the Army plans to pursue a similar effort as it did to procure its infantry squad vehicle.
The Army approved on May 3 an Abbreviated Capabilities Development Document for potential prototypes with baseline achievable requirements to include range also called silent mobility, duration on station also called silent watch, and exportable power.
Should the program receive funding, the PL GMV office would launch a prototyping effort with the first phase set to begin in fiscal 2022. This would consist of commercial off-the-shelf or non-developmental vehicles to be provided to an operational infantry brigade combat team unit to test. The Army would share costs with industry during this phase, the service said.
The Army would choose up to four contractors providing two prototypes each.
Contractors that pass through a critical design review-type event will move on to the second phase in FY23.
“It is expected that the second phase vehicles would be fully integrated and should accurately represent the eLRV in an operational environment,” the statement noted.
Following the effort, the Army would determine its final requirements approved at the Army Requirements Oversight Council level and decide on an acquisition strategy.
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.