Afghan debacle, Chevy Bolt, combatting climate change, EVs, General Duane Gamble, GM Defense, Hybrid EVs, joe biden, Kathleen Hicks, lithium ion batteries, microgrids, non-tactical EVs, Proterra Busses, rare earths, Steve DuMont, The Pentagon
Back in December of 2021, I wrote Military EVs: Taking Up The Slack, which was a critique of the idea of electric vehicles for military use. Near the end of that article, I noted:
What about battery powered military trucks, tanks, and other armored vehicles? Absent the fusion breakthrough I previously mentioned, that’s not happening. A Hummer-sized military EV traversing bad terrain in all weather conditions, carrying a load of equipment-laden troops with all of their gear and spare ammo is going to have only a fraction of the cheerleader range GM and federal bureaucrats claim. Armored vehicles—armor weighs a very great deal–and trucks carrying heavy loads will have to be followed by EV trucks with massive generators to recharge them, and the EV trucks that haul the generators, every 100 miles, or less—very likely much less, because weight dramatically reduces EV range.
I also addressed the dangers and foolhardiness of military EVs:
Our enemies won’t have to bother destroying our war fighting machines. They’ll just have to target the generators, which won’t take expensive missiles, only a few bucks worth of .50 caliber, or its metric equivalent, ammunition. Still, our enemies will enjoy shooting up our EVs because the resulting explosions will be so pretty.
By “generators” I was referring to the diesel powered generators and their fuel trucks necessary to recharge the thousands of military EVs our oh-so-woke military brass reportedly want. I was also referring to the lithium-ion batteries, which, if in any way damaged, tend to burst into intensely hot flame and even explode, all for the expenditure of only a few cents in common small arms ammunition rather than an expensive missile or other explosive projectile. Imagine what an explosive projectile will do to an EV.
I mailed a package today. Guess what the Post Office worries about going undeclared in packages? Lithium-ion batteries.
I had not intended to readdress the topic of military EVs quite so soon, but I stumbled on an article from National Defense Magazine.org. and found myself compelled to if not fisk it, at least somewhat dampen the cheerleading.
To combat climate change, boost U.S. industry and achieve operational advantages, the Defense Department has ambitious plans to transform its fleet of ground vehicles through the introduction of electric and hybrid-electric drive technologies. Automakers see major opportunities to help the military and win business.
Addressing what it calls the climate crisis is a top policy priority of the Biden administration.
‘The department is committed to meeting the challenge by making significant changes in our use of energy and increasing our investments in clean energy technology,’ Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said in November during remarks at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
Need I, gentle readers, discourse on the idiocy and folly of our military making “combat[ing] climate change” any sort of priority at all, particularly when it will surely not only weaken our war deterring and fighting abilities, but cost American lives? I thought not. Go here for additional information on the Army’s climate change priorities.
The Pentagon is developing a ‘sustainability plan,’ part of which will be focused on developing a zero emissions non-tactical vehicle fleet.
And how, exactly, will this “zero-emissions” electricity necessary to produce EVs and charge EVs be produced? Will troops in the field fly kites, ala Benjamin Franklin?
‘Currently the Department of Defense has about 170,000 non-tactical vehicles — the cars and trucks we use on our bases,’ Hicks noted.
‘That’s the largest fleet in the federal government, next to the U.S. Postal Service. Our success in transitioning this massive fleet to zero emissions, most of which will be electric, will depend on America’s auto industry and autoworkers right here in Detroit.’
Oooohhhh, so they only want to electrify our “non-tactical vehicle fleet,” do they? No. I don’t believe them either, and in any case, that’s going to prove far more difficult than they imagine. While a simple sedan or SUV used for administrative purposes might be electrified, pretty much any other military vehicle is going to be on or near the front lines, carrying equipment and troops of one sort or another at one time or another. Oh, and guess which country has pretty much a monopoly on the rare earth metals necessary for EV batteries and electronics? China. So much for “made in Detroit.” According to the article, GM is all excited about it and is pledging some $35 billion to the effort
There will be some challenges involved, he [GM’s Steve DuMont] acknowledged.
‘There is infrastructure that needs to be put on the bases, there’s a whole rollover of acquisition of these vehicles. But it truly is what we’re doing today on the commercial side’ of the automotive business, DuMont said.
GM is looking at creating microgrids to facilitate the transformation.
Yeah, about that… As regular readers are no doubt aware, I’ve been pointing out the civilian side of EV utopia is not going to work out either. There are not sufficient rare earth elements available to build the batteries and electronics. The Chinese control most of them, and thanks to Joe Biden, they now control Afghanistan where most future sources of rare earths are believed to be. We have them in America, but of course, we’re not allowed to exploit those resources, even for national security purposes. Climate change, you know.
Also, none of these people, apparently including the exquisitely woke “leaders” of our military, seem to understand from where electricity comes. Our military is going to need much more than “microgrids.” Bases and armies in the field are going to need nothing less than complete powerplants to provide sufficient electrical power if what is being proposed ever materializes. Powerplants tend to be kind of large, heavy and non-mobile. And what, pray tell, will power those powerplants—you know, the coal and nuclear powerplants wokesters are forcing closed because Climate Change?–or will they simply use electricity to produce electricity, like AOC when she said we could pay for Medicare for everybody by just paying for it?
Army Lt. Gen. Duane Gamble, deputy chief of staff, G-4, said electrification of non-tactical vehicles and their deployment on installations will help inform how the Defense Department leverages EV tech for other elements of the future force.
Ah. There it is. These idiots really think they can have a battery powered Army, Air Force, Marine Corp, and probably even Space Force. And in case you think I’m making unwarranted assumptions about their intentions to electrify even tanks, read on:
‘Building trust in our soldiers, our civilians and our leaders in our non-tactical wheeled vehicle fleet and the infrastructure that goes along with that … will help us transition and fully understand not only the technology, but the challenges associated with incorporating it into our combat vehicles,’ he told members of the House Armed Services subcommittee on readiness during a December hearing on operational energy.
“Combat vehicles:” trucks, Armored Personnel Carriers, Tanks, armored platforms of all kinds and even whatever replaces Humvees. Actually, they’ll probably be turned electric first and classified as non-tactical, but that will be a lie.
The Pentagon also wants to electrify its tactical vehicles — not just to combat climate change, but to achieve operational benefits as well, Hicks noted.
Yeah. I wonder just how much of the brass really wants this sort of thing? Surely those willing to kiss greenie’s asses do, but whatever actual war fighters remain are surely not happy about this. We haven’t even settled on a rifle and cartridge to replace the current M4, which we might want to deal with prior to fussing about other issues. To be fair, there does seem to be at least a little reality standing in the way of our brave, new, military EV future:
Gamble said the Army is at an ‘inflection point’ for the tactical wheeled vehicle and combat vehicle fleets, largely because of technologies that have emerged from the commercial industry.
The initial push will be for hybrid-electric drive, or HED, because ‘full electrification for our complex weapon systems at the forward edge of the battlefield is a goal that we don’t believe that currently our technology will support,’ Gamble said.
Of course. We’ll have to incorporate unproven, fragile and unnecessarily complex technologies into military vehicles. But when combatting climate change is our military priority, why not?
‘How are you actually going to power these vehicles if you’re talking about a deployment far from home?’ Burke asked. ‘You can’t run them off a grid if you’re on a battlefield, so … until you have an answer to that question, you’re not ready yet.’
Well, I’m glad at least someone notices. Maybe “microgrids?” Prepare for world class cheerleading:
Hybrid-electric architectures for tactical systems are expected to yield major operational benefits, officials and analysts say.
HED could reduce fuel consumption by as much as 35 percent, Gamble noted. Other advantages include: extended range and persistence; increased onboard power for capabilities such as directed-energy weapons, jammers and electrified armor; reduced maintenance costs and associated logistics footprint; silent watch and silent mobility; and reduced thermal and acoustic signature.
Oh, 35% you say? Riiiiight. “Expected” by who, exactly, backed by which actual, functional technology? In armored vehicles traversing off road in combat conditions? EV mileage figures always reflect ideal conditions with no use of battery draining electronics rugged terrain or cold. Figure less than half the cheerleader range figures as a baseline. “Persistence?” What the hell does that mean? They intended to “persist,” but couldn’t? And from where is this “increased onboard power” going to come? We’re talking about the fuel used just to make the vehicles go from point to point. “Increased onboard power” has to come from generators, or onboard engines when they’re not used for motive power. Adding more and more complex mechanicals, which will have to be completely reengineered for military vehicles, will not reduce maintenance costs and “associated logistics,” and the “silent watch and silent mobility; and reduced thermal and acoustic signature” nonsense has to refer to full EV capability, but batteries and other electronics produce their own, considerable heat. Besides, I thought we were talking about HED, not full EV?
BAE is going to be producing two Bradley Fighting Vehicles with HED—wait a minute: aren’t those, you know, armored combat vehicles?–supposedly in 2022, and it’s going to be just grand:
Miller said the HED for the Bradley was designed to be a scalable system that could be installed in all the vehicles that are part of armored brigade combat teams except for the M1 tank and the M88 recovery vehicle. ‘We’re trying to make it as plug and play as we can.’
They’re going to “retrofit” and make everything hybrid. It’s the inevitable future, and an enormous source of eternal funding for a defense industry going into the drive train rather than tactical and strategic weapons business. That’s necessary to combat climate change. Our troops won’t have the weapons they need to win, but they’ll be much more efficient as they drive partway to defeat—range limitations, remember?–in everything other than pretending to be combatting climate change.
Gamble said the ‘hybridization’ of tactical wheeled vehicle and combat vehicle fleets is achievable between now and the end of the decade.
The Army aims to acquire ‘full electric’ complex weapon systems in the light and medium categories in the 2030-2035 timeframe. Service officials believe the technology required will be mature enough by then, Gamble told lawmakers. Heavy platforms would likely come later.
But DuMont believes all-electric tactical vehicles could be ready for warfighters much sooner than some are predicting.
And oh yes, the troops are just going to love all electric vehicles and other gear, particularly in cold weather when they can’t use heaters, which are notoriously bad and range-sucking in EVs. Take the link, but be prepared for stomach-wrenching EV cheerleading, which is bad enough when they’re pushing consumer vehicles. It’s deadly when they’re pushing EVs on our troops.
GM has already proven it can create highly capable, fully electric tactical wheeled platforms, DuMont said.
The company built an all-electric military concept vehicle similar to the conventionally powered Infantry Squad Vehicle. Both systems are based on the Chevy Colorado ZR2, and the concept vehicle utilizes the same power plant as the Chevy Bolt.
The Chevy Bolt?! Go here for an article on that power plant, which propelled a tiny subcompact only a few hundred miles–not really–in ideal conditions of highway driving, and not at full highway speeds either. Oh sure, that’s going to work great for a tactical vehicle carrying multiple troops and all their weapons, ammunition and other gear. I wonder how many hundreds of billions, and lives, are going to be wasted on this particular boondoggle?
‘I’ve taken it out and demonstrated it with the Army. I’ve shown it to the Marine Corps. I’ve had Special Operations Command drive it,’ DuMont said. There’s nothing the conventionally powered ISV can do that the concept vehicle can’t do, according to DuMont.
Nothing, except demonstrate the same range, quick refueling capability, and resistance to exploding when under small arms fire, that is. Let us, gentle readers, review, once again, why this “technology” is not only unsuited to military use, but actively dangerous to our troops, their mission and America’s national security.
*Logistics: mastering logistics is what wins wars. How can an army possibly recharge EVs in the field? They’ll need huge numbers of hugely powerful generators, powered by diesel fuel, which will have to be transported by diesel trucks. Why huge? Generators will have to be sufficiently powerful to charge multiple EVs at once, otherwise an army would need nearly a charger per vehicle to operate in the field. Unless Tony Stark licenses his Arc reactor technology, that means huge numbers of really big generators. Batteries have only a fraction of the energy density of fossil fuels; their efficiency loss is enormous. Electricity can’t be stored in any meaningful way; it has to be generated for real time use. This fossil fuel fact, and low cost—pre-Biden—is why fossil fuels have made modern, technological life possible and productive. It’s also what makes our military possible. Imagine the horror of having to tow diesel generators, which will be necessary to charge the EV trucks towing them, which won’t be able to charge other vehicles while they’re charging the EV trucks. All the transformative EV combat vehicles will need to sit in one place, not for 10-15 minutes, but hours, while being recharged by heat-producing, noisy generators, which can only charge to about 80% capacity because full capacity takes an hour or more longer. This is not conducive to short-term survival or winning wars.
*Cold Weather: cold dramatically reduces EV range. Not everywhere our military is stationed, or will have to fight, is going to be Southern California climate. EV heaters, as I’ve previously noted, are notoriously infective and rapidly drain batteries.
*Range: no matter what the cheerleaders say, absent some unbelievable, unimaginable technological breakthrough, EVs are never going to have the necessary range, particularly for armored vehicles. One can increase range through more efficient propulsion engineering, lightening a vehicle, or improving its aerodynamic profile. No matter how brilliant the engineering, no matter how efficient the electric motors or computer controls, there is no way to make armored vehicles more aerodynamic or lighter. Those two factors are always going to overwhelm propulsion engineering.
Back in August of 2021 I wrote, in part, about Proterra’s urban busses, large, heavy, not at all aerodynamic vehicles, which well illustrate the point. Philadelphia bought 25 of them at a cost of about a million each. They were supposed to get 200 miles of range. They actually got something between 30 and 50 miles and were a complete bust for other reasons as well. That was on city streets and routes specifically chosen to maximize range. That’s $25 million flushed down the toilet. That’s a lot of ammunition our troops could use for training. How are battery powered trucks and armored vehicles going to do?
Military vehicles, by their very nature, do not get good mileage. Function must take precedence over form or greenie intentions or people die. Lack of range, lack of charging stations, and long recharging times continue to strangle civilian EVs. They will kill military EVs and their occupants.
*Reliability: Do civilian EVs really require less maintenance than fueled vehicles? Are they less complex? More reliable? We don’t know. We particularly don’t know about military EVs. The idea sounds good on paper, but to date, pretty much everything about EVs that has sounded good on paper has not worked out in reality. We do know replacing an EV battery is from 1/3 to ½ the cost of the new vehicle. Imagine what that cost is going to be for a military EV. Imagine too, what’s going to be necessary to make batteries sufficiently rugged for military use. An EV replacement battery pack heading to the front line is a fiery explosion just waiting to happen. Wokesters are confidently, happily willing to bet the lives of our troops on unknowns.
*Inherent Danger: Lithium-ion batteries are made of volatile substances that must be kept separate. Should they mix, and even a pinhole will do, they burst into explosive flames and even explode. Every military EV is going to be carrying its own self-destruct device, and all it will take is the slightest penetration of that enormous, heavy battery pack. Unless even more armored weight is added to protect the battery pack, making the vehicle even heavier and further reducing range, even small arms ammunition should do the trick. That assumes it’s possible to make battery packs sufficiently rugged to prevent their destruction from normal military, to say nothing of combat, use.
Final Thoughts: There is not going to be any “retrofitting” of current vehicles. Hybrids and EVs have to be designed from the ground up. Their systems are just too different. Our troops need rugged, reliable vehicles easy to maintain in the field, and that do what’s necessary in combat. Pushing for EVs is, like so much else in the Woke playbook, backward. It’s what ought to be instead of what is, fairy dust and unicorn fart intentions vs. hard reality, and reality doesn’t get any harder than combat.
We need to start from a clear understanding, for every vehicle, weapon system, even our troops, of what the mission is, and what is necessary to accomplish that mission. If a given EV vehicle will meet those criteria at no more cost and no reduced efficiency and function over our current equipment, fine. Actually, any new vehicle should do better than current inventory, or why replace what works? Our woke military “leaders” are obviously going about it backward. They begin not with the needs of our military, but with the absolute goal of forcing EVs on our troops, who are going to have to adapt regardless of whether EVs will do the job, or merely help the enemy more easily kill them. Remember: all the enemy will have to do is kill our generators. Our vehicles will be multi-ton doorstops when they run out of battery power within hours, our troops, sitting ducks.
Consider this: woke lunacy, including vaccination mandates, is already driving people out of our military and greatly complicating recruitment. When people learn our military vehicles are deathtraps, when they learn our military isn’t serious about protecting America, who is going to volunteer?
But hey, we’re combatting climate change! Somehow, I don’t think the Chinese, Russians, Iranians, or any of our other enemies will be impressed, or frightened.