The U.S. Army will soon field its next generation of operational energy to Afghanistan with a line of leaner, fuel-saving generators expected to transform the way power is delivered to the battlefield.
Known as Advanced Medium Mobile Power Systems, or AMMPS, the generators cut fuel consumption by as much as 21 percent and free up soldiers from fuel convoys often targeted by roadside attacks.
This technology, being delivered to a unit in Afghanistan, serves as the operational energy model for the Army at a time when the Department of Defense is aggressively pursuing efforts to cut fuel consumption, leverage alternative energy sources and improve operational energy efficiencies.
“The balance of new technology that comes with AMMPS, including the right size power generation, power distribution and soldier energy awareness, will save lives on the battlefield,” said Col. Brian Cummings, project manager for Mobile Electric Power, or PM MEP.
Last October, the Army G-4 office estimated 18 percent of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq were related to ground resupply. By lowering fossil fuel consumption in theater, the number of trips made by convoy supply units will be reduced, cutting risk to soldiers.
In May, the 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Carson, Colo. became the First Unit Equipped with AMMPS. Fielding of AMMPS to Afghanistan will begin in July.
As many as 15 outposts in Afghanistan are targeted to receive the new generators, Cummings said.
The efficiencies brought by AMMPS give combat power back to the soldiers who do not have to spend as much time transporting fuel, maintaining generators or guarding convoys.
“Soldiers need power to run communications gear, weapons systems, tactical operations centers and more,” said Lt. Col. Michael Foster, product manager for medium power sources. “But in Afghanistan, where there’s very little infrastructure, units have to take power with them. To be able to do that in an efficient way allows soldiers to focus on combat operations instead of tactical power.”
AMMPS, being fielded by PM MEP in partnership with the Rapid Equipping Force, are overall 50 percent more reliable than their predecessors, greatly reducing maintenance costs and time. Once fully implemented, the new generators are expected to avoid 346,000 hours of maintenance manpower per year in Afghanistan.
Ranging in size from 5 kilowatts to 60 kilowatts, AMMPS are 21 percent more fuel-efficient than the systems currently in theater, with greater reliability and a 10 percent reduction in size and weight.
Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines were able to see AMMPS first-hand and ask experts questions about their capabilities during the 2012 MEP User Conference held May 8-10.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Bruce, a soldier with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat team who attended the conference, said he had a chance to train and use AMMPS while stationed in Germany.
“I jumped at the opportunity to use them,” said Bruce. “We hooked it up, used it and loved it. It did everything they said it did.”
During the first fielding the Army will deliver 81 AMMPS to Afghanistan. Over the next 12 months, the Army has the capability to deploy approximately 1,600 AMMPS to theater. At the same time, PM MEP will provide training and energy specialists to assist in the transition.
This is especially important as the Army gears up to field its first integrated package of tactical communications equipment, known as Capability Set 13. AMMPS will better support the power demands of this advanced network than the current power solution, known as Tactical Quiet Generators.
The use of the energy-efficient AMMPS is just one part of a multi-pronged approach to improving energy efficiency for the Army and DOD.
Last year PM MEP deployed the DOD’s first operational microgrid at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. The mircogrid consists of “smart” generators that link with one another to intelligently manage the power supply and operate at peak efficiency. The shift from Tactical Quiet Generators to the microgrid system at Bagram showed a 17 percent reduction in fuel use, 85 percent reduction in maintenance man hour requirements and 100 percent power availability.
PM MEP will continue to field innovative power solutions that better leverage energy efficiency and ultimately help protect soldiers on the battlefield.
By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest, PEO C3T