PEO C3T Program Review & Vision Guide

Powering the Warfighter to Victory  

By Paul Richard

Established after the Vietnam War to reduce the proliferation of more than 2,000 different makes and models of power generation equipment, Project Manager Office for Mobile Electric Power (PM MEP) is assigned the mission of providing standardized, tactical, electric power systems to power the battlefield for all of DoD’s services.

Given the force multiplier effect proven by the advanced use of information technology and electronic warfare sensors and intelligence equipment during Operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the past 10-15 years has seen an exponential increase in the demand for power on the battlefield.  Thus, as the number of generators has increased, so, too, has the number of resupply convoys necessary to keep them fueled.   

The 2008 Defense Science Board (DSB) Task Force report on DOD Energy Strategy identified generators as the Army’s single largest consumer of fuel on the battlefield during wartime operational tempo. The DSB report estimates that more than 357 million gallons of fuel are required for power generation-more than for combat vehicles, tactical vehicles or combat aircraft.  As a result, refueling supply convoys have become the target of choice for enemy combatants using improvised explosive devices.  To counter these tactics, PM MEP has implemented several initiatives to reduce power-generation-related fuel consumption on the battlefield.

First, it has ramped up fielding of its Central Power Solution (CPS) to power command posts. CPS is based on using fewer larger-sized generators combined with power distribution equipment to replace several smaller-sized generators powering individual loads. In some cases, this has resulted in a four to one reduction in the amount of generators required to power a Command Post. For a single Division Main Command Post, CPS will eliminate 11 generators, saving approximately 200 gallons of fuel per day, and reduce transportability costs by 12 tons, freeing up 5,000 cubic feet of space.

It also frees up five HMMWVs and three FMTVs to tow/transport other equipment.  PM MEP estimates a cost avoidance for a Main Division Command Post at nearly $400,000, not including the price of reduced contractor support of commercial systems that were replaced with military standard systems that are organically supported.  

In addition, PM MEP is developing the next generation of generators for the DoD, called the Advanced Mobile Medium Power Sources (AMMPS). AMMPS systems will be almost 25 percent more efficient than the Tactical Quiet Generators being used today, and have better reliability and a smaller form factor. A 15kW AMMPS generator will pay for itself in fuel savings alone in less than one year under wartime tempo.

Although conventional engine-driven power generation sources will likely remain the backbone of the military’s tactical electric power fleet for the near term and beyond, further improvements must be made in how tactical electric power is generated and distributed on the battlefield. Looking at power holistically as a combat capability, PM MEP’s future vision is to develop a fully integrated architecture for battlefield electric power.  

A Patriot launcher tube is shown at the back of a platform. On the front is a 15 kilowatt, 400 hertz Tactical Quiet Generator.

This includes utilizing conventional and alternative energy/power technologies in a plug-and-play system using scalable micro-grids for power distribution and intelligent power management systems to gain greater efficiencies. The potential benefits of this approach are tremendous and can provide significant improvements in combat mobility, greater reductions in fuel consumption, and large reductions to the logistical footprint of power on the battlefield. To realize this vision, PM MEP is leveraging advancements in conventional power generation technology with alternative/renewable power generation technologies, and combining those with intelligent power management and distribution.

PM MEP has several on-going, joint-service initiatives, including hybrid power prototypes with energy storage capability, fuel cells, co-generation systems that use waste heat to produce either electricity or improve efficiencies of environmental control units, and integrated photovoltaic systems and other renewable energy systems.  

For the future, PM MEP is looking to develop a common architecture for battlefield electric power that will have the capability to intelligently manage both power producers and consumers via an intelligently managed and highly efficient battlefield power grid.