Shadow Hybrid Vehicle to Become a Power Source
General Dynamics Land Systems has received a $5.9 million agreement modification to upgrade its Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Targeting Vehicle (RST-V). The upgrade supports continued operational evaluation of the vehicle as a utility carrier, prime mover and electrical generator for various U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) applications. System capabilities will be demonstrated in a relevant operational environment in early 2006.
General Dynamics Land Systems Advanced Programs Manager Tom Trzaska said, “The Marine Corps has asked us to make reliability and functional changes to the vehicle, including a 30 kilowatt export power capability, to power battlefield loads such as the Unit Operations Center and radars… We will make improvements based on feedback and lessons learned from the USMC and the U.S. Army Special Operations command operators who used the RST-Vs at Yuma.”
The Shadow RST-V was developed for the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR). The original RST-V program objectives sought to exploit hybrid electric drive technology with innovations in electric-wheel motor drive, chassis design, power management and a patented folding suspension to provide a highly mobile, survivable, long-range reconnaissance vehicle that could be transported inside a V-22 Osprey.
The result was a 4×4 hybrid electric drive vehicle with RST and C3I (command, control, communications and intelligence) capability, coupled with integrated stealth and survivability features. The vehicle can be equipped in a range of mission variants including: forward observer, forward air control, reconnaissance, light strike, battlefield ambulance, air defense, logistics, personnel carrier, anti-armor and mortar weapons carrier. For a Command Post variant, the roof of the Shadow is extended. In transport mode, the RST-V is narrower than a jeep and has cargo capacity comparable to a HMMWV. It can be transported in roll on/roll off mode in a CH-53 or CH-46 helicopter, V-22 tiltrotor and C-130 transporter. Up to 21 vehicles can be carried in a C-5 Galaxy aircraft or 12 in the C-17 Globemaster.
The vehicle’s hybrid power system is designed to provide modular, flexible options. It allows the vehicle to be operated in several propulsion modes: battery, diesel electric, or hybrid. The system can be adapted to use a full spectrum of energy storage options, from a base diesel electric with no energy store, to ultra capacitors, to any battery chemistry. Previous USMC RST-V operational evaluations demonstrated the system’s significant potential and utility to provide or support command and control on the move by using exportable power generated by its hybrid electric propulsion system.
Hence the current requests.
The RST-V’s hybrid electric drive can provide on-board power generation as a battlefield power source. An upgraded system could complement or replace trailer and packaged power generators in many applications, especially in conjunction with some of the solar fabric technologies being developed by defense contractors like Konarka. The result would be improved deployability and reduced footprint for USMC expeditionary and Joint Forces operations.
General Dynamics Land Systems is a pioneer in electric propulsion for military application, and has partnered with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Office of Naval Research and the USMC on the RST-V program since 1999. In this latest round of funding, DARPA contributed $5 million of the total $5.9 million.
Additional Readings & Sources
- General Dynamics (May 20, 2005) – News Release
- Army-Technology.com – Shadow RST-V Reconnaissance Surveillance Targeting Vehicle, USA
- DARPA – TTO Programs – Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Targeting Vehicle (RST-V)
- GlobalSecurity.org has more on the RST-V program intent.
- Navy Marine Corps News (June 4/05) – Reconnaissance Surveillance Tactical Vehicle Video Report