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AUSA: Army still wary on hybrid drive

Lt. Gen. Ray Mason, the Army's top logistics officer, said it is his challenge to convince Pentagon leaders to invest in operational energy programs -- especially in this austere budget environment.

"It's my responsibility to convince leadership to spend money in order to save money in the long run," he said.

It would help if the Army had better metrics to measure power consumption, such as fuel efficiency. Mason said his Operational Energy Office under the Army's G4 is working to identify those statistics and provide those to leaders in order to make investment decisions.

The largest chunk of funding for weapons programs exists in their "tail" or life cycle costs. However, most of the Army's focus for vehicle programs sits with the per-vehicle cost.

"Eighty to 90 percent of the cost is in the tail, not the acquisition cost," Mason said. "It makes sense to make the investment up front."

Hybrid drive technology is an example of an investment the Army must decide if it wants to make in one of its top modernization programs, the Ground Combat Vehicle. One competitor, BAE Systems, is incorporating a hybrid drive system into its GCV submission.

"It's not just about fuel efficiency -- we think overall it also performs the best," said Mark Signorelli, vice president and general manager of Weapon Systems at BAE Systems. The company argues that a hybrid system not only would be more efficient, it would provide more power that tomorrow's soldiers will need for high-tech onboard and personal gear.

Mason said the Army is coming around to investing in hybrid engines. More work remains in accurately measuring the cost savings associated with the technology, said Col. Paul Roege, chief of the Operational Energy Office.

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