Babcock International, the defence company, has been awarded a one-year contract by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to help the British Army understand the Defence application and constraints of electric propulsion.

Partnering with Electric Vehicles (EV) experts, Electrogenic, Babcock will convert four in-service military Land Rovers, two protected vehicles and two general service, from diesel fueled to EV using a drop-in kit and modified battery system.

The vehicles will then be put to the test by the Armoured Trials and Development Unit (ATDU) in a series of experimental battlefield / military scenarios, which will assess performance over steep terrain, wading and towing, and different climate-related conditions.

Chris Spicer, Babcock’s Managing Director of Engineering and Systems Integration – Land, said: “This is a great opportunity to investigate alternative engine technology, which will enable the British Army to extend the life of its Land Rovers as diesel becomes obsolete. I’m excited to see how the converted Land Rovers perform in a test environment against diesel and hybrid equivalents. Sustainability is an integral part of our corporate strategy and by partnering with Electrogenic, we’ll be supporting the MOD to be prepared for the shift to electric vehicles from 2030 and the UK in reaching its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

Babcock International was awarded the contract by Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the procurement arm for the UK Armed Forces. Corporal Bryan Munce, from the Armoured Trials and Development Unit (ATDU) at MOD Bovington, said: “ATDU is supporting Defence to fully realise the strengths and weaknesses of electric vehicle technology through Project LURCHER. Mobility performance, exportable power, signature and cost reduction are just some of the considerations we will explore while partnering with Electrogenic and Babcock. In understanding what could enable our forces, it also informs MOD of potential threats to be cognisant of, to enhance our strategic approach.”

Steve Drummond, Co-Founder of Electrogenic, added: “We are delighted to be working with Babcock, and we’re immensely proud to be putting our market-leading EV technology to the ultimate test with the British Army. To be selected is a testament to the sophistication of our technology, and our years of experience developing Land Rover EV conversions. At the core of our offering, is the ability to have total control over every element of the electric drivetrain. As a result, our EV technology elevates performance – particularly when in adverse conditions and off-road – to a whole new level. It’s the ideal fit for military vehicles.”

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  1. Boggles the mind. This is one of the reason defense budget are so high, they are wasted on stupid projects like this.
    EVs with their current technology restraints are just not suitable for any vehicle that is going to be used in the combat where a vehicle with the mobility of the Land Rover is required. The weight of the batteries significantly increases the weight of the vehicle which for units such as 16 Air Assault means having access to fewer vehicles because you can’t transport as many in the same aircraft. (at your not going to have as many in service full stop as they will cost at least twice the price to procure)
    EVs also have less range and once this batteries run flat how are you going to recharge them? With diesel generators, well ignoring the fact you didn’t want to be using them in the first place you are going to need more of the which again how are you going to get them there?
    And forget about your long range patrols with Path Finder Patrol or Special Forces, can’t take Jerry Cans full of batteries.
    Use Electric vehicles for at home around base operations, totally on board with this and there is a clear benefit.
    But for combat operations no, just no. The technology just isn’t there. Batteries need to become more powerful and the weight needs to drop by half. The second half of the equation is power generation. Portable Nuclear power stations in the future maybe the answer.
    You would think that in the times we are living in western aligned defence forces would be laser focused on fixing their COMBAT short comings within the limited budgets they have instead of these silly little virtue signalling pet projects.
    One can but live and hope.

    • Thanks Tim. I don’t know anything about the topic, but let me take a stab at it. Lithium ion batteries are much lighter than lead-acid; have greater power density and are much faster to recharge – so on that basis I’m not sure why they shouldn’t be studied in more detail for military applications. They – and hydrogen fuel cells – are starting to find their way into larger vehicles such as trucks and buses.

      If anyone else has a better informed opinion, please feel free to share it.

  2. All modern EVs use Lithium Ion batteries for the reasons you mentioned, but that doesn’t change any of the points I’ve mentioned.
    To give you an idea of just 2 points weight and price.
    A brand new Ford F150 4×4 Ute in ICE config weighs 2132kgs kerb compared to same model in pure EV 2885kgs kerb, that’s an increase 27% difference in weight. The price different between the same model but ICE to EV is an increase of 35%. The ICE vehicle will also travel 460 miles compared to 300 miles for the EV, a 35% decrease in range.
    So you can see just with that information the real world issues at hand, and that’s before you even think about how you recharge them in the field, or fix them in a combat situation whilst on long range patrol etc.
    I think if the UK armed forces really want to go green instead of investing in the shortage of weapons they currently have, EVs for around based operations at home and for combat operations aboard the much better option is at the moment is to use Hybrid motors. The US and Germany are investing heavily in hybrid motors for their next generation vehicles from Light vehicles all the way up to the mighty Abrams MBT replacement. Hybrid engines offer many benefits over both ICE and EV vehicles. Hybrid vehicles are heaver than ICE vehicle but still much lighter than EVs and have better range than both ICE and EV vehicles. Because they still use gas (just alot less of it) it would still be suitable for Special Ops requirements as an example because they can be refilled from jerry cans in the field whilst on patrol. Then by the time that generation of Hybrid vehicles need replacing the battery technology and patrol power production technology may have caught up to allow the fielding of such technology in combat conditions.

    • Fair enough. I think technically the Hawkei is a hybrid, having both a diesel engine and a large battery pack to not only allow for a short duration of silent running but it can also recharge the various devices that soldiers carry around.

  3. Tim is right.
    Waste of resources on greenwashing that’s by means of energy density an absurd proposition with the current solutions.
    1kg of diesel fuel has about 100 times the amount of energy than 1kg of lithium-ion battery (broad comparison, but good enough for the sake of the argument)
    Also consider price/time to refuel or recharge, a Jerry-can and gravity vs. fast charger, what would be more reliable in a conflict?
    There is a strong case for hybrid vehicles,
    Torque is better, noise, IR signature, smoke control, but it’s source of energy would be liquid fuel, that had a energy density of +/- 45MJ/kg.
    Li-ion batteries with an energy density of +/- 0.46 MJ/kg. Batteries should be used to buffer and energy recovery, a-la F1


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