FORT BELVOIR, Va. (June 17, 2020) — The Army is modernizing power distribution equipment to provide upgraded capabilities that will improve performance and reliability for field hospitals.
Personnel from Army Futures Command (AFC) and Project Manager Expeditionary Energy and Sustainment Systems (PM E2S2) analyzed the medical community’s limitations from its current M400 power distribution system, which was fielded in the 1980s, and developed a plan to address the medical community’s requirements for increased expeditionary power.
Within five months, engineers and technicians of the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center (C5ISR) Center — a component of AFC’s Combat Capabilities Development Command — designed and fabricated four M800 prototypes to meet form, fit and function specifications.
The Center is the Army’s research and engineering hub for developing improved power systems that serve a critical role for implementing the service’s modernization priorities, according to Frank Calkins, a C5ISR Center senior power and energy subject matter expert.
“Reliability is the most important capability to be addressed in upgrades from the M400 to M800,” Calkins said. “The Army’s medical professionals must have confidence that all their equipment — from CT scanners to computers — will work without interruption in field conditions.
“The M800 project supports the branch’s larger goal of supporting the Army’s expeditionary power needs by providing smaller and lighter distribution technology with added capabilities. There was a need from the field, and the team responded with a solution.”
The Army improved the system’s reliability by implementing the revamped M800 system with military specification circuit breakers that are less susceptible to nuisance tripping than commercial ones, said Phil Minor, Expeditionary Power and Environmental Control branch chief for the C5ISR Center. The M800 also allows for easier access to its internal components for maintenance and repairs.
The team also engineered the M800 to operate in a wide range of environmental conditions, such as weather and topographical conditions, to meet field deployment needs. The prototype addresses the Army’s demands for greater mobility on the battlefield by doubling the potential power output in a distribution box that is about 30 percent smaller and 135 pounds lighter than the legacy M400.
The C5ISR Center reduced the project cost and timeline by completing all development, design and fabrication internally instead of through a contractor.
“Our in-house work allowed us to control selection of all components and materials while continually working with PM E2S2 to determine the best solutions,” Minor said. “We could make changes at any point without the need for contract modifications that lead to increased costs.”
The Army Test and Evaluation Center is testing the M800 prototypes at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. Upon completion, C5ISR Center and PM E2S2 will incorporate necessary modifications into the full technical data package (TDP) that documents the design.
“Most importantly, the Army owns the complete TDP. Now, the Army can select any vendor for full-rate production instead of being tied to a single source,” Minor said.
For more information, contact the C5ISR Center Public Affairs Office: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The C5ISR Center is the Army’s applied research and advanced technology development center for C5ISR capabilities. As the Army’s primary integrator of C5ISR technologies and systems, the center develops and matures capabilities that support all six Army modernization priorities, enabling information dominance and tactical overmatch for the joint warfighter.
The C5ISR Center is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. Through collaboration across the command’s core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation’s wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.
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