Not-So-Virtual Cyber Warfare: Why Uncle Sam Is Saying Goodbye To Double A Batteries
The age of the “double A” battery as the battery of choice for portable electronics may be nearing an end as the U.S. Army extends the reach of advanced communications systems all the way down to the boots on the ground.
Over the past year or so, the U.S. Army has begun fielding a the first fully-integrated fleet ofnetworked communications equipment known asCapability Set 13, which will effectively establish a single voice and data network for the full range of Army operations.
These new battlefield capabilities have dramatically increased the amount of power needed to support the typical soldier. Needless to say, AA batteries just aren’t cutting it.
“As you have effectively closed that capability gap for combat information, a consequence is you have created an entirely new one for power and energy,” said Steve Mapes, product lead for soldier power at Program Executive Office Soldier during an interview with National Defense magazine.
For example, the National Defense magazine
The entire data stream is fed into the military’s “ Tactical Network” over encrypted tactical radios.
These “ networked” radios is the linchpin for the bringing the benefits of the network to the boots on the ground. They are also especially prodigious users of electricity.
A single networked radio can burn through a dozen or more disposable batteries in a single day. Searching for a signal is power intensive.
“A battery that is designed to last eight to 10 hours out of the network is consumed in two to four hours on the network,” said Mapes.
The 2.5-pound, 150 watt-hour “conformal battery” is the first-generation solution to the Army’s need for light-weight, high-efficiency portable power solutions.
The conformal battery, a flexible, multi-cell rechargeable power pack that fits into a soldier’s chest or side body armor pouch over the protective plate, can support a networked soldier for 24 hours, a four-fold improvement compared to previous batteries, which had to be replaced every six to eight hours.
“There was no ‘prior-to-this’ battery,” Mapes told National Defense. “There was no need for such a capability with the urgency we have today because you didn’t have all your guys running around with networked radios.”
The network has already been extended to include four combat brigades but deployment is not scheduled to be complete until 2017.