Electricity on the horizon of defense?

(To Gianluca Celentano)

I am pleased to think that some of my readers share my opinion on the classic internal combustion engine: it can still offer a lot and is not as enemy of the environment as it is described. However, it cannot be denied that technological development is also fascinating in the electrification sector, a reality that is also approaching the world of military tactical mobility.

Doubts could arise by comparing the new electrification systems (more sensitive?) And the historical military approach based on simplicity and mechanical reliability, which has always accompanied our vehicles without problems.

After all, already with the 2018 edition of Eurosatory some armored and electrified tacticians made their appearance as the Scarabee by Arquus (photo), a light vehicles hybrid and protected 4 × 4 now marketed worldwide.

A novelty?

I remember that in Italy back in 1917, the "Anti-Submarine Motorboat" was launched MAS 96 (Orlando shipyard) which will be echoed by D'Annunzio's motto "Memento Aude Semper", equipped with two 6hp 500-cylinder Isotta Fraschini engines, plus two electric thrusters for surprise approaches.

Today's electrification could be a sequel of innovations that saw the light as early as 1917 as the tank Saint-Chamond  (photo) equipped with a petrol engine plus two electric ones.

More "recent" the Panzer VI Tiger (P) entered service in '41 and equipped with two petrol motor generators to power as many electric motors on the pinion wheels.

Not wishing to enter into the endless controversies about electrification, a sector that embraces enormous interests, I will instead focus on the tactical usefulness of “silent motorized systems”.


I let you imagine how much the unit cost of a specialized military vehicle can rise full electric or hybrid, and it is understandable that the first to approach these solutions with important units was the American Defense, which spends more than 1,8 billion dollars annually.

With us, with the limited funds to the army, I let you guess the embarrassing scenario within the regiments where the cost of an extra camouflage or a simple coupon to be done by a heavy vehicle is being discussed.

Change of course for the US tanks

The American military leadership would be inclined to gradually replace the fleet of its vehicles by replacing them with hybrid or electric vehicles. The concept of choosing between motorized vehicles or full-electric it would lie in the fact that the latter would be more difficult to identify.

The American multinational Allison Transmission will take care of the technological aspect which, in the note of October 2021, declares projects for motors, generators and inverters to be combined with the transmission of next-generation tracked vehicles. Michael Cadiuex, director of the Ground Vehicle Systems Center of the US Army argues that electrification can improve both vehicle performance and infantry effectiveness1.

In the study, as stated by Dana Pittard, vice president of Allison, there would be the generator Transmission Integral Generator (TIG) tested Ground Vehicle Systems Center, a mechanical energy converter up to 120 kW that can also be used outdoors as a generator, eliminating traditional towable complexes. But there is more on the scale: a traditional axle for heavy loads up to 13 tons of PTT where, instead of the differential, there is an electric motor. The result is a low transmission ratio, less friction, less dispersion and more agility with low fuel consumption.

Who is Allison?

It is an American company that operates around the world specializing in automatic transmissions. I met her driving heavy vehicles in fact still, when the gearbox is not manual, automated or the traditional automatic Voith or ZF, it is an Allison. I was very impressed by the softness of the clutches and the fact that Allison was the last to adapt to the push-button panel for shifting the gears, keeping in use the longest-lived and traditional selector lever.

In some European armies, the Allison transmission is required for the supply of military vehicles, as is an option to ZF for some countries including Spain in the IDV Group production with the Allison HD 4700 system. These are traditional hydraulic automatic transmissions with converter , very robust and born according to American standards that prefer very heavy loads. There is (by now on all) an exclusion clutch that activates around 1000 rpm to exclude the hydraulics and favor torque and engine brake to the vehicle.

The field of use of these transmissions is very vast and also used in construction machinery. As needed, it is possible to insert power take-offs for hydraulic pumps or mechanical ventilation systems, making them compatible with modern and fast diesel engines.

The evolution of Allison, who has always been a military partner by creating a specific business unit for broadcasting - cross-drive military series -, it has expanded to the first organ that one encounters after the gearbox, the bridges or the axles and, for some years now, the new challenge has been precisely in the parallel production of electric and electrified systems.

Step back from the EU with Euro 7?

Even if partially, Italy with the Interministerial Committee for the Ecological Transition (Cite) has aligned itself with the Brussels legislation in stopping the production of internal combustion engines from 2035. A “very hot” issue which, however, is already encountering delays and postponements. In fact, at work there is theAdvisory Group on Vehicle Emission Standards which is working hard to avoid a technically impossible stop in various (too many) aspects. There is talk of a Euro 7 legislation that was supposed to see the light in July 2022 and which in part intensifies the anti-pollution parameters already present in the 6D euros but offering hope for traditional production. The parameters would be related to the micro dust released by brakes and tires, but there is also talk of real tests on the road and not only on test benches to really test the pollution of a very modern endothermic engine. Perhaps the army of motoring enthusiasts will be able to breathe a sigh of relief?

1 https://chargedevs.com/newswire/allison-transmission-developing-ev-tech-...

Photo: Nicolas Broquedis / web / Allison Transmission Inc.