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Revolutionizing Military Energy Solutions: STEEP and JABS Leading the Way

The landscape of modern military operations is undergoing a profound transformation. As the challenges and complexities of the battlefield evolve, so do the energy requirements that power critical systems and operations. This shift has led to the emergence of innovative energy solutions that embrace both traditional and hybrid technologies. Among the vanguards of this change are the Stable Tactical Expeditionary Electric Power (STEEP) and Jumpstart for Advanced Battery Standardization (JABS) programs, spearheaded by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). These initiatives reflect the imperative for new military energy solutions to meet a range of requirements in the dynamic theater of warfare.

The military is constantly looking for ways to improve its capabilities. One area where there is a lot of potential for improvement is in energy solutions. Traditional military energy solutions are often based on fossil fuels, which can be expensive, unreliable, and harmful to the environment.

Understanding the Demands:

As military operations become increasingly decentralized and reliant on technology, energy solutions must adapt to diverse terrains, fluctuating power needs, and the imperatives of operational secrecy. Traditional fossil fuel reliance is no longer sustainable, driving the need for efficient, reliable, and resilient energy sources. The new paradigm requires solutions that offer:

  1. Adaptability: Energy solutions must cater to a range of operational environments, from austere and remote areas to densely populated urban centers.
  2. Reliability: The uninterrupted power supply is paramount for the functioning of mission-critical systems, such as communication, surveillance, and weaponry.
  3. Sustainability: Reducing the military’s carbon footprint aligns with broader global goals while mitigating the logistical challenges of fossil fuel transportation.
  4. Flexibility: Hybrid energy solutions, capable of integrating multiple technologies, offer the versatility needed for dynamic and unpredictable scenarios.

Hybrid Technologies Shaping the Future:

Hybrid energy solutions have emerged as a compelling answer to the diverse requirements of modern military operations. By integrating various energy sources, such as renewables, energy storage, and traditional generators, these systems offer a comprehensive approach that ensures energy security and resilience. Hybrid solutions offer benefits that include:

  1. Redundancy: Multiple energy sources reduce the risk of operational downtime due to a single point of failure.
  2. Efficiency: The ability to switch between sources optimizes energy use, conserving resources and prolonging operational capability.
  3. Sustainability: The integration of renewables reduces the military’s carbon footprint while ensuring continuous power availability.
  4. Adaptability: Hybrid solutions can be tailored to the energy requirements of specific missions and environments, enhancing operational flexibility.

STEEP and JABS: A Glimpse into the Future:

The STEEP and JABS programs encapsulate the principles of adaptability, reliability, sustainability, and flexibility in their pursuit of cutting-edge energy solutions. The STEEP program’s modular and vehicle-transportable energy system offers various energy storage and management options, enhancing grid stability and providing energy for silent watch operations. JABS, on the other hand, seeks to standardize battery modules, facilitating the integration of new battery technologies and reducing costs.

By focusing on hybrid technologies, these programs align with the changing landscape of military energy needs. STEEP leverages electric vehicle propulsion architecture, like GM’s Ultium Platform, to create scalable energy storage units. JABS’ standardized battery modules embrace the efficiency and versatility of hybrid systems, setting a precedent for future energy integration.

STEEP Program: Enhancing Tactical Energy Management

Imagine a modular, vehicle-transportable energy system that offers a multitude of energy storage and management options for tactical and mobile microgrids. That’s exactly what the STEEP program aims to create. With embedded control functionalities, the STEEP system doesn’t just provide energy—it enhances grid stability, enables silent watch operations, and shaves peak loads.

Fueled by funding from the DIU’s Joint Warfighting Assessment (JWA) program, STEEP aspires to revolutionize the energy security and resilience of the DoD. The program draws expertise from the DoD, academia, and industry to develop a scalable, adaptable, and cost-effective solution. By 2025, the STEEP system is projected to be fully operational, providing the DoD with reliable and sustainable energy sources for operations in even the most austere and remote locations.

Benefits of STEEP:

  1. Enhanced Energy Security: Reduced reliance on fossil fuels translates to a more reliable and sustainable energy source.
  2. Increased Resilience: The ability to operate in challenging environments ensures operational readiness even in the most remote areas.
  3. Streamlined Deployment: Modularity and vehicle-transportability enable easy deployment and maintenance.
  4. Empowered Mission Capability: A dependable power source boosts critical systems’ performance and operational effectiveness.

JABS Program: Standardizing Battery Modules

In the realm of energy integration, standardization is a game-changer. The JABS program addresses this by developing a standardized battery module that can be universally applied across the DoD. By simplifying battery integration and reducing costs, JABS accelerates the adoption of new battery technologies. One of the key players in this initiative is GM Defense, a subsidiary of General Motors.

 

GM Defense’s prototype battery module, powered by the Ultium battery technology, aims to provide a versatile solution. Beyond developing the module, GM Defense integrates it into its Multi-Mission and Logistics vehicle—a medium-duty truck with diverse applications, from cargo transportation to battlefield logistics. By testing the module in real-world scenarios, GM Defense fine-tunes its design to meet military requirements effectively.

Benefits of JABS:

  1. Cost Efficiency: Standardization minimizes the complexities and expenses associated with custom battery modules.
  2. Operational Efficiency: Maintenance and repair become more straightforward with a single, standardized battery type.
  3. Enhanced Performance: New battery technologies with improved performance can be swiftly integrated, boosting efficiency.
  4. Interoperability: Shared batteries across platforms enhance collaboration and interoperability.

These programs exemplify the DoD’s commitment to cutting-edge solutions that optimize energy use, bolster operational readiness, and address emerging challenges. As we look to the future, the synergy between innovation, technology, and strategy will play a pivotal role in ensuring military effectiveness in the 21st century. STEEP and JABS are not just programs—they’re pathways to a more agile, resilient, and advanced defense landscape.

By focusing on hybrid technologies, these programs align with the changing landscape of military energy needs. STEEP leverages electric vehicle propulsion architecture, like GM’s Ultium Platform, to create scalable energy storage units. JABS’ standardized battery modules embrace the efficiency and versatility of hybrid systems, setting a precedent for future energy integration.

Other Ways the Military is Revolutionizing Its Energy Solutions

In parallel with the remarkable endeavors of the STEEP and JABS programs, the Department of Defense (DoD) is forging ahead with a multifaceted approach to address its dynamic energy requirements. Beyond the innovative STEEP and JABS initiatives, the DoD is directing its investments towards a spectrum of cutting-edge technologies, each poised to revolutionize energy sourcing and utilization on the modern battlefield. Solar power and wind power stand as beacons of sustainable energy solutions, harnessing the sun’s and wind’s abundant resources to power critical operations.

Here are some of the other ways that the military is revolutionizing its energy solutions:

  • Investing in renewable energy: The DoD is investing in renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Developing new energy storage technologies: The DoD is developing new energy storage technologies, such as batteries and flywheels, to store energy for later use.
  • Improving energy efficiency: The DoD is working to improve the energy efficiency of its vehicles, buildings, and other systems to reduce its overall energy consumption.

Meanwhile, fuel cells offer a glimpse into the future by converting chemical energy into electricity with remarkable efficiency. Complementing these energy sources, the DoD is diligently exploring novel methods of energy storage and distribution, ensuring that power can be reliably harnessed and strategically deployed in the most demanding scenarios. As these technologies converge, the DoD navigates toward a future where energy innovation not only empowers its operations but also contributes to a greener, more resilient defense ecosystem.

Conclusion:

As the theater of modern military operations continues to evolve, energy solutions must evolve in tandem. The requirements of adaptability, reliability, sustainability, and flexibility serve as guiding principles for crafting effective energy strategies. Hybrid technologies stand at the forefront of this transformation, offering solutions that cater to the multifaceted energy needs of the 21st-century battlefield. The STEEP and JABS programs exemplify the success of this approach, demonstrating that innovation, collaboration, and strategic thinking can pave the way for a more agile, resilient, and energy-efficient defense landscape

Conclusion:

As the theater of modern military operations continues to evolve, energy solutions must evolve in tandem. The requirements of adaptability, reliability, sustainability, and flexibility serve as guiding principles for crafting effective energy strategies. Hybrid technologies stand at the forefront of this transformation, offering solutions that cater to the multifaceted energy needs of the 21st-century battlefield. The STEEP and JABS programs exemplify the success of this approach, demonstrating that innovation, collaboration, and strategic thinking can pave the way for a more agile, resilient, and energy-efficient defense landscape.

The DoD’s efforts to address the evolving energy needs of modern military operations are essential to ensuring the success of future missions. By investing in new technologies and innovative solutions, the DoD can ensure that it has the power it needs to prevail in any conflict.

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