Home' Defense Systems : May and June 2014 Contents S S SS to the U.S. military. The
green power source helps keep down fuel costs, offsets the
dependence on fossil fuels, and can power mission-critical
systems during short- and long-term deployments to remote
regions of the world.
Just consider the cost of providing gasoline for U.S. forces
deployed in Afghanistan. The U.S. military is able to buy gas at
a cost of about $1 per gallon, but transporting it to forward bases
in Afghanistan raises the cost of one gallon to $400.
The numbers are staggering. In 2012 the Defense
Department spent in excess of $20 billion on energy and
consumed more than ve billion gallons of oil, according to the
Solar Energy Industries Association.
With DOD under a congressional mandate to obtain 25 percent
of its energy needs from renewable energy sources by 2025,
defense agencies and the military services are building solar plants
at bases and installations throughout the United States.
DOD already has made impressive progress with that
application of solar energy given that there are more than
130 megawatts of solar photovoltaic energy systems powering
military bases in 31 states and the District of Columbia. Among
the most signi cant of these projects are at Fort Irwin, Ca.;
Fort Bliss, Texas; Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; and Naval Air
Weapons Station China Lake, Ca.
But the possible uses of solar energy go far beyond simply
using it as a source for base housing. At forward bases and
on the battle eld, solar energy is a viable source of power for
surveillance, targeting systems and tactical communications. In
the realm of tactical communications, solar chargers can power
command posts, computers and mobile devices. Simply put, if
it has electronics, it can use solar power.
To achieve a dramatic use in solar energy won t require years
of research, either. That s because the kind of solar technology
the military needs is already commercially available or already
has been adapted from existing consumer products to meet
war ghters varied needs.
At forward operating bases used by U.S. forces in Afghanistan,
there is a keen need for off-grid power systems. At these bases,
portable solar arrays operate at xed locations. Although still in
the nascent stage, there is a growing list of companies that furnish
portable solar cells that can be attached to a backpack for such
needs as powering Global Positioning System equipment. The
portable solar cells already introduced have proven to be as light,
if not lighter, than traditional portable batteries.
A decade from now, solar energy won t be just a neat idea
for troops in battle, it will be a signi cant part of the overall
MILITARY SEES SOLAR ENERGY
FOR GEAR OF ALL SIZES
to Meet Agency Missions
DV C S T T CH
The U.S. military has a growing need for rugged networking systems
that can support warfighters on air, sea and land both during routine
patrols and combat expeditions around the globe. These networking
systems, which support a variety of intelligence and communications
needs, are as essential to saving lives on the battlefield as hand-
carried weapons and large weapons platforms used in combat.
Networking systems that require a high degree of ruggedization
can include radios, sensors, switches and software that are
integrated with each other and connect to centrally located
command and control operations. The rugged subsystems that make
up these integrated networks must be able to withstand extreme
environmental conditions, such as temperature, wind, rain and sand.
They also must be able to withstand the rigors associated with
taking a network system into combat where vibration and physical
impact can damage or destroy subsystems.
Military services are now frequently including in their
specifications for rugged networking systems the use of high-speed
Ethernet switches that can furnish 10 Gbps. Such bandwidth
capability is becoming routine in anticipation of bandwidth-intensive
needs for emerging technologies used by manned and unmanned
subsystems for signals intelligence, radar and sonar, tactical
communications and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Examples of large military platforms that are using high-speed
Ethernet switches are the Army s latest generation of mine-resistant
ambush protected vehicles and the Navy s MH-60R and MH-60S
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