U.S. Army equipment officials are encouraging units to use lithium AA batteries rather than the cheaper alkaline version to power thermal weapon sights and night vision gear.
The L91 lithium battery costs more but it lasts a lot longer than the alkaline alternative, according to Project Manager Soldier Sensors and Lasers officials.
Lithium batteries provide up to three times the operating time which will allow soldiers to carry less batteries on dismounted ops, said Joe Pearson, Logistics Management Division director for PM SSL.
The Power-Up-Properly lithium battery campaign is aimed at decreasing soldier load, increasing operational performance and reducing supply cost over time, Pearson said.
Lithium batteries perform better in extreme temperatures. They have an operating range of minus 40 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, Pearson said.
For one thermal weapon sight, soldiers will need eight L91 lithium batteries for each 24 hour period, said Staff Sgt. José R. Salcedo III, who added that you would need about 24 alkaline batteries to get the same performance.
“That comes out to about a pound for each day in weight savings and extra room,” said Salcedo, the S3 Tasking NCO for 2nd Battalion, 504 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.
“Weight is obviously important. On average we carry 100 pounds for a five day patrol. Five less pounds of batteries is a good thing.”
Lithium batteries are more expensive up front. They cost $1.40 to $2.50 per battery compared to alkalines that cost $.60 to $1 each. But over time, units will buy less lithium batteries and increased performance, Army officials say.
“We just want to make our equipment as efficient and as effective as we can,” said Master Sgt. Reiko Carter, the Fielding OPS NCO for PM SSL.