NATO and partner nations’ expeditionary infantry and special operations forces are unmatched in operational capability today, thanks to advanced electronic equipment at the small unit level.
However; while the SWaP ratio for electronic equipment has greatly improved over the past 10-15 years, the load carrying burden on the average infantryman or special operator has significantly worsened. The average load of an infantryman in WWII and Vietnam was 35-40lbs; today the typical load has doubled to 75-80lbs– and it’s not uncommon for the individual load to weigh up to 140 pounds.
A significant portion of this weight is accounted for by the troops’ “Battery Burden.” For example, on a typical long patrol mission in Afghanistan, an airborne infantryman could carry as many as seven different types of batteries for 12 electronic devices – adding up to 16lbs in battery weight. For comparison, that’s more than the weight of a dozen fully loaded 30-round STANAG magazines!
But it’s not just the weight of the Battery Burden – from the early days of OEF it also became obvious that limited battery life, and the need to swap out batteries on the move, was causing disruption to operations and impairing mission success.
So how do you keep troops at the small unit level powered up and in the fight, while also relieving them of as much of the Battery Burden as possible? One successful approach has been the ‘universalising of power.’ This led to the development of a sophisticated embedded power conversion and control software platform that could enable troops in austere operational environments to harvest power from any available source, convert and balance it, and supply it to run devices and keep rechargeable batteries topped up. This system delivers several important benefits – provides an uninterruptable power supply (UPS), maintains full operational capability of essential electronic equipment, reduces the individual Battery Burden, and simplifies unit-level battery logistics.
This intelligent software-based system enabled the development of the first practical, rugged, portable Power Manager system. This software-centric approach allows for smaller and lighter devices as well as the ability to upgrade and add features in the future. Combined with smart cable technology, connecting a power source, an electronic device, or a battery is truly as easy as plug-and-play. No end-user programming or configuration is required at all.
Now in its 4th generation of development, and successfully proven on multiple deployments, the PTX SPM-622, developed and manufactured by Protonex Technology Corporation, is protected by a housing of machined aircraft-grade aluminium, is fully waterproof (can even operate fully submerged), weighs less than a pound, and functions perfectly in temperatures ranging from -20° to +60° C.
With several thousand systems already in use, the SPM-622 Squad Power Manager packs a tremendous amount of capability and flexibility into each pocket-sized device:
- It is a power ‘universaliser’ that can run any device from any battery and charge any battery from any source
- It has full built-in system intelligence requiring no user configuration or programming for true ‘plug-and-play’ capability
- It reduces the quantity and variety of batteries units need in the field or on patrol – replacing up to 45lbs (or more) of batteries, chargers and cables
- It uses solar, vehicle, generator, wall socket, and battery power seamlessly for increased operational capability, flexibility and compatibility
- It supports the majority of currently deployed military radio systems, including; PRC-148, PRC-154, PRC-117F/G, PRC-152, MPU-4, Motorola, etc.
- It recharges most military and commercial rechargeable batteries, including BB2590, BB-2557, 28V vehicle, conformal wearable battery, power tool batteries, and the latest high performance radio batteries
- Constant operability of mission-essential electronic devices is ensured - radios, satellite phones, GPS units, tablets, laptops, medical equipment, EOD equipment, power tools, UAVs and UASs can all be kept running as long as needed with the SPM-622
- Thanks to its modular software architecture and smart cable technology, new capabilities and devices are easily incorporated as needed
Protonex has also developed a range of dedicated, application-specific solutions that deliver specific operationally enhancing capabilities; including:
- Prolonged Field Care
- Extended Fire Support
- Unmanned Systems
The SPM-622 currently supports more than 200 different types of electronic equipment; including all type of military batteries; commercial batteries; UAS; UGVs; high-performance military radio and SATCOM systems; laptop and tablet computers; EOD equipment; medical equipment, GPS and laser designator systems, etc. And as lightweight, rugged electronic devices continue to delivery increased operational capabilities, this list will continue to grow.
For more details about the full range of power management solutions from Protonex, click here.