PM MEP Users' Conference: Powering the Warfighter to Victory
April 30, 2010
- Electrical power users from across DoD will gather in Orlando for workshops and to discuss a range of tactical power issues
- The conference will contribute to more efficient and effective ways to generate power in tactical environments
- Future power generators and distribution techniques will significantly reduce fuel consumption and associated transportation costs
- "By shifting the power paradigm, each year one Army division would save 275 thousand gallons of fuel, ..."
The Project Manager for Mobile Electric Power (MEP) has scheduled a users' conference that will provide an open forum on tactical electric power (TEP) issues across the military services May 4-6 at the Shades of Green Resort, Armed Forces Recreation Facility in Orlando, Fla.
Lt. Col. Mathew Tyler, the Commander of the 249th Engineering Battalion and the Commandant of the U.S. Army Prime Power School, is scheduled as the keynote speaker for the event.
The conference will focus on resolving any TEP issues in order to provide the Warfighter with the most reliable TEP equipment available and enable innovative solutions in support of emerging requirements.
The conference will include several breakout sessions to address Service-unique issues and a variety of TEP topics, products, and users. Personnel representing the Combat Developer, Materiel Developer and Army HQ offices will attend to address TEP issues from requirements generation, to production, fielding and sustainment of hardware, to "boots on the ground" issues.
The conference theme - "Mobile Electric Power: Powering the Warfighter to Victory" -- highlights that without power C4ISR systems and technologies cannot operate and Soldiers are left in the dark, unable to communicate.
"Power is the last thing that most people think about when they are deploying, but when they get there, the first thing they think about is where can I plug in my equipment," said Paul Richard, Deputy Project Manager MEP.
Technological advancements in theater require parallel improvements in tactical power generation. PM MEP answers the call by sustaining the legacy force, developing and fielding new products, and exploring innovative solutions for future Joint power challenges.
"It's pretty easy to make power, but making it to survive in a tactical environment is the challenge," Richard said. "It needs to be as small, lightweight and reliable as possible."
During the Vietnam War the Department of Defense had over 2,000 makes and models of generators across the services. PM MEP's top priority is to ensure it standardizes as few configurations as possible to ensure the systems can be effectively and efficiently supported and sustained, Richard said. Among the many systems demonstrated at the conference this year standardized power distribution equipment will be on display, as well as the Tactical Quiet Generator family of generators -- the second generation of military standard power generation hardware currently being fielded.
In addition, pre-production models of the Advanced Medium Mobile Power Sources (AMMPS) family, which are part of the DoD's newest third generation of military standard generators, will also be on display for the first time at the conference.
In 2008, the Defense Science Board issued a report that identified generators as the single largest consumer of fuel on the battlefield, more than tactical vehicles or aircraft. During a wartime optempo over 357 million gallons of fuel are consumed annually for battlefield power generation. Fuel convoys are one of the primary targets for enemy combatants, Richard said. The AMMPS family of generators will be at least 20 percent more efficient across the fleet in terms of fuel consumption. When fully fielded, the fleet is it is expected to save the Army over 50 million gallons of fuel a year.
The current schedule for the AMMPS program leads to a Milestone C full rate production decision in late 2010, with production deliveries beginning early in 2011.
The conference will also preview future power generation systems, including a hybrid of a standard 3kW Tactical Quiet Generator used in conjunction with a solar powered system. This generator will be able to autonomously operate while pulling power from solar arrays to minimize the use of fuel needed to provide power.
Shifting the Power Paradigm
Next to reducing fuel consumption, the second biggest push for PM MEP is to improve power generation on the battlefield by shifting the paradigm of power. Historically anything on the battlefield that needed power had its own generator. Today PM MEP is trying to create "power islands" where it takes a smaller number of larger sized generators coupled with power distribution equipment to feed the same loads. This would decrease the number of generators for the Army to operate and maintain, and reduce fuel consumption as well as the logistical footprint of power on the battlefield.
By shifting the power paradigm, each year one Army division would save 275 thousand gallons of fuel, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2,400 tons, and it would potentially save up to $150 million dollars or more depending upon if it is in a peacetime or wartime operations tempo. In addition 71,000 man hours could be saved in operating and maintaining redundant power sources.
In the future the power paradigm is expected to shift even further. Instead of having a power island with a couple of larger generators distributing power, local power grids would be created on the battlefield. These future power grids would be capable of utilizing power from any available source, vehicles, generators, solar, wind or existing utilities, while intelligently managing the power in conjunction with prioritizing loads to ensure all critical equipment remains fully powered 100% of the time.
"Similar to like what you would have at home--you plug into an outlet and you are connected to a grid," Richard said. "You don't worry about where the power is coming from, it's always there."
Reducing fuel consumption, while improving the effectiveness and efficiency of power generation, will enable PM MEP to power the future force while allowing the Warfighter to focus on the mission at hand. The PM MEP User Conference will facilitate these efforts, by bringing together end users with those who support their efforts.
"Power is an enabler," Richard said. "Power by itself doesn't supply the big flash, bang, boom, of some of the more high profile weapon systems, but without power none of those systems can operate."