Sustainability in the MOD: The Push For Electric Armoured Vehicles

By Molly Doyle


The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has a responsibility to ‘deliver defence in the most effective, efficient and sustainable way’, as stated in the Defence Strategic Direction 2011. Drawing from this, the Sustainable MOD Strategy ‘Act & Evolve’ 2015-2025 set out two principles:

  1. ACT to make use of sustainable resources and reduce the negative impact of unsustainable resources.

  2. EVOLVE to make the current and future social, economic and environmental businesses resilient to threats.


Recently, the MOD invested £3 million into the hybrid electric drives project known as ‘Technology Demonstrator 6’ (TD6). The project seeks to develop the Foxhound and Jackal 2 armoured vehicles into a new hybrid electrical drive system. It is being led by NP Aerospace in collaboration with General Dynamics UK, Supacat and Magtex to create the prototypes.


Currently, the UK’s fleet of 2,200 armoured vehicles is being continuously updated and upgraded by the Protected Mobility Engineering & Technical Support (PMETS) program; the same program that will be testing the latest technology in the army vehicles. PMETS was awarded to NP Aerospace in 2019 and will support 250 jobs across the UK until 2024.


TD6 makes use of ‘Act & Evolve’ by reducing the army’s reliance on fossil fuels and its subsequent contribution to carbon emissions. Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said “These tests will ensure our Armed Forces have the latest, safest and most efficient technology while continuing to support prosperity across the UK. They represent a potential opportunity to improve our vehicles’ sustainability and military effectiveness.”


Aside from just lowering the military’s carbon footprint, there are many other benefits arising from armoured vehicles being upgraded with electrical engines. While it depends on what exactly is developed, hybrid engines are usually quieter, thereby increasing the stealth capability of vehicles. Developing battery power storage would also reduce how often vehicles need to refuel (depending on how they are charged), meaning vehicles could go on longer missions; whilst charging times at the moment take longer than refuelling, an army vehicle certainly has the capacity and power to store multiple batteries. Furthermore, there is potential to cycle through fresh batteries between refuelling stops, or to introduce an element of solar charging. One thing for certain is that military equipment needs to survive a wide range of harsh terrains, and upgrading vehicles to hybrid engines will “maintain our battle-winning edge’.


The initial stages of TD6 are expected to be displayed in November at the Defence Vehicle Dynamics 20.


HOW WILL THIS HELP ME IN AN INTERVIEW?


Whilst general knowledge of military and government affairs is good commercial awareness, law students with a particular interest in Environmental and Energy Law would benefit from knowing about the lesser-known parts of the bigger plan to tackle climate change. Showing that you understand the need for long-term sustainability demonstrates to an interviewer not only your awareness of your responsibility to the planet, but also that you understand how environmental agendas will inform developments in the law in the next decade.


Even if you have no interest in the military, you could use this knowledge to demonstrate how this innovative technology will be relevant commercially. Such advanced technology is bound to advance quickly with the backing of the military, therefore you can impress an interviewer by demonstrating the practical applications that could come from the developments.


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