Nov 23, 2021
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The U.S. Army gets recharged

The U.S. Army gets recharged

Photo: AP / TASS

The U.S. military must be prepared for the challenges posed by climate change, Pentagon deputy chief said Kathleen Hicks… And she offered to transfer the American military to electric vehicles.

So far, the army in this regard “is not at the level at which it should be,” she admitted in an interview with CNN. The problem, she said, is the lack of resources to maintain green infrastructure, in particular, to create batteries for electric vehicles.

Hicks recalled that “the world is investing about $ 750 billion in lithium-ion batteries.” But China’s dominant role in the supply chain is becoming a “threat to US national security.”

The deputy minister is convinced that following the civilian car industry, the US military should also switch to “green” vehicles. Otherwise, the army will be “overboard.” And “our equipment parks will be deprived of the opportunity to receive support.”

However, she does not deny that there may be problems with the use of electric vehicles in combat conditions. And that refueling equipment with hydrocarbon fuel is still more convenient and economical compared to charging electric vehicles.

However, Hicks has already prepared a plan to electrify the army’s vehicle fleet. And she even managed to present it in early November during her trip to Michigan, which is traditionally considered the center of the American car industry.

Its idea is to replace about 170 thousand non-combat vehicles and trucks used at US military bases with electric ones, and transfer tactical vehicles to hybrid engines.

In what time frame all this should be done, the Deputy Minister did not specify. But she pointed out the importance of battery technology in gradually reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

Earlier it was reported that the US Army plans to receive a vehicle ready for combat tests on electric traction in 2025.

Meanwhile, in March of this year, National Defense Magazine published a commentary on this matter by the acting. Director of the Ground Forces Systems Center of the United States Army Alfred Grain, which recognized the complete rejection of traditional internal combustion engines as impossible.

According to him, the environment in which the military operates is significantly different from that in which there is a commercial consumer of electric cars. And how the problem of charging electric vehicles on the battlefield will be solved is not yet clear to him. Because “in battle it will not be possible to charge the battery for several hours, and there are simply no sockets in the desert and jungle.”

Is it really realistic to transfer all military equipment to electric traction, and most importantly, how expedient is it?

This question “SP” addressed member of the public council of the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, famous auto expert Igor Morzharetto:

– Of course, it’s hard for me to comment on the Pentagon’s plans. But if we talk about any technology (military, civil – it doesn’t matter), then the main thing is that it is effective and reliable. For the army – any: American, Russian or some other, this is all the more relevant.

Therefore, here it is probably necessary to calculate how much such reformatting will result in – how much an electric car will be more expensive than a regular one. And secondly, how mobile it will be.

Because it’s one thing to use electric forklifts within a warehouse. Or, for example, a van for the delivery of groceries in the confined space of a military town. This is probably economically justified.

But as for everything else, unfortunately, no country in the world has such a developed system of electric filling stations to allow equipment to go far away from the highway. And military equipment, it should still be quite mobile.

Therefore, this question, in my opinion, is more political than economic and even, indeed, strategic.

In the West, it is fashionable today to give up hydrocarbons. They have a “green strategy”. But let’s, within the framework of this strategy, also transfer space rockets to electricity. This is complete nonsense.

I understand if we are talking about some kind of technique of auxiliary value somewhere on the bases, in the deep rear, as they say. But in combat conditions at the present stage, it is much easier and faster to refuel with gasoline or diesel fuel. But an electric car cannot be charged instantly, that’s for sure.

Military analyst, retired colonel Mikhail Timoshenko, in turn, lamented that “there is always trouble with new technologies”, especially when they “begin to be introduced not where it is necessary, but on the basis of fashionable political trends”:

– How, in fact, is a hybrid car different from an electric car? In a hybrid, there is an internal combustion engine and an electric generator. An electric vehicle has a lithium-ion battery.

Only it will take several hours to charge the battery. You’re not going anywhere here. And you can fill a truck with diesel fuel, even if it has a 400-liter tank, in a few minutes.

Another important point: in order for these electric filling stations to work, the networks (or cables) must, so to speak, be stretched. What is a cable? This is, roughly speaking, an antenna. Or a piece of conductor, in which electromotive forces are induced, arising from an electromagnetic pulse that accompanies a nuclear explosion.

That is, an electromagnetic wave in a nuclear explosion burns everything that is attached to this cable. And the cable itself also burns out. How, then, will the trucks be refueled with lithium-ion batteries if the industrial stations are burned out?

This is not to mention that heavy lithium-ion batteries will significantly reduce the mass of the payload of a truck or car, which must perform tasks not in peacetime, but in the theater of operations. Again, in combat conditions, you can hardly stretch the cable network and put up charging stations. It’s not that easy.

“SP”: – That is, the plan turns out to be costly?

– Of course. This, in general, everyone understands. Indeed, not only is lithium quite rare, it is also the most in demand today. That is, funds are needed for the development of the mineral, for production facilities, in order to produce these lithium-ion batteries …

For the Pentagon, this is a convenient excuse to once again turn to Congress for additional financial resources.

To be honest, I always have a suspicion: as soon as the screams begin that it is necessary either to preserve something – such as the environment, or to restrain Russia from something that it did not intend to do, it is always a disguised demand for money …

Then, if a woman becomes a member of the leadership of the US Armed Forces, she must somehow declare herself, somehow prove herself. Electric tanks – why not, really?

But the fact of the matter is that the battery is much more expensive than any other energy storage device such as gasoline or diesel fuel. Besides, how many recharge cycles it will withstand is a big question. We have lithium-ion batteries, in fact, in smartphones, and there the number of charge-discharge cycles is certain.

“SP”: – Who generally said that electric vehicles are more environmentally friendly?

– There are a lot of problems with this “clean energy”. First, the batteries themselves – they will need to be disposed of somewhere. And there are practically no companies that undertake such utilization. Or they break fabulous money. Therefore, what to do with batteries that will go out of circulation in the next decade is completely incomprehensible.

The same story with wind turbines. The worn-out blades of wind turbines will soon have nowhere to store. Many European countries have already banned their storage and burial on their territory. Therefore, rich Europeans and Americans use poor third world countries for this. Such is the struggle for a clean environment performed by the collective West.

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