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Defence technology

Ministry of Defence (MOD) shows its commitment to a greener future and challenges industry to develop ideas to help support the Armed Forces and the environment at

The Defence Technology Plan was launched in February 2009 by the Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies. This includes MOD?s Capability Visions which looks for solutions to long-term defence requirements

A vision for a ?greener? future is challenging MOD to reduce dependency on fossil fuels while delivering the power needed to equip the Armed Forces, run equipment, provide transportation and run essential services, such as food and communications across land, sea and air. MOD needs secure, independent fuel supplies that can be maintained and are not vulnerable to interference or coercion by enemy or economic forces.

Fuel supply is essential in military operations, directly powering vehicles, ships and aircraft. Fuel is also used to generate electricity where there is no reliable supply, for example at Forward Operating Bases (FOBs), which are temporary camps that provide logistical support, shelter and prepare troops for combat in hostile areas. Currently, power comes from diesel generators, that are kept supplied using convoys travelling at risk from hostile action and open to other threats such as deliberate denial and conflict over supply.

?MOD accounts for around 1% of UK CO² production?
MOD Climate Change Strategy, Dec 2008,

Added to this, MOD has sustainable development and climate change strategies (available for download at that aim to reduce dependency on fossil, reduce environmental impact and still support an effective fighting force. MOD also recognises that the financial pressures that lead to fluctuating fuel prices mean that it is crucial to develop ways to reduce demand for power and create alternative sources of energy. If fuel could be generated in-situ there would be multiple benefits including reduced cost and risk to life.

MOD?s Capability Visions seeks significant changes to address key long-term defence challenges.

MOD challenge to industry

This year, a challenge was issued to industry and academia as part of MOD?s Defence Technology Plan. Capability Visions (CVs) are looking for innovative solutions that will address long-term defence challenges in specific areas. The Capability Vision Reducing Operational Dependency on Fossil Fuels seeks to identify defence-specific challenges and opportunities for minimising the reliance of the military on fossil fuels. The underpinning technology will probably come from the commercial sector, with MOD looking at military specific aspects including:

  • Hydrogen Storage For Military Systems;
  • Robust Fuel Cells;
  • In-situ Energy Generation;
  • In-situ Fuel Generation;
  • Hybridisation;
  • More Efficient Engines;
  • Exploitation Of Biofuels In Defence.

As part of this vision, ?the self sustaining FOB? challenge offers opportunities for ideas that could lead to energy self-sufficiency with the capacity to recharge the electric and plug-in vehicles of the future. Innovations are being encouraged in renewable sources including wind, solar and geothermal as well as methods that will better manage existing power infrastructure, produce hydrocarbon fuels from local sources and photosynthetics.

?Fuel accounted for 2.5% of the 2008/09 Defence Budget?
MOD Annual Report and Account 2008/9

Another area where MOD has issued a specific challenge is in the Future Protected Vehicle Capability Vision which is looking for a vehicle that will provide the protection, mobility and firepower of a 70-tonne Main Battle Tank along with the carrying capacity of an Armoured Fighting Vehicle but weighing less than 30 tonnes. As well as greater fuel efficiency (reducing the logistical support needs), new technologies allow novel approaches to design such as hybrid electric-drive hub motors that could provide very large wheel articulation to improve underbody survivability.

Capability Visions encourages fresh thinking from new and existing suppliers.

MOD is also asking for ideas for Reducing the Burden on the Dismounted Soldier. Troops carry a huge weight burden which includes body armour, communications, IT, batteries and other essential equipment. MOD is looking for innovation to ?lighten the load? but maintain or increase the level of physical protection and other areas of performance.

Presently an individual soldier may carry over 70kg on operations and it is hoped that this may be reduced to around 25kg by looking at areas including:

  • High-power batteries and super capacitors;
  • Novel fuel cells;
  • E-textiles;
  • Kinetic energy harvesting.

Added the 04 October 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-2

Related elements :

Innovation UK Vol5-1
Putting innovation on the front line
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) offers anyone with the innovation and will to enter the defence market a single entry point through the Centre for Defence Enterprise
Innovation UK Vol5-2
Centre for Defence Enterprise
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is open to innovation and supports new entrants into defence with research funding and advice through the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE)

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