Two international contractors inspect a sample of JP-8 fuel in Kuwait in 2010. The Army hopes to use the fuel as the basis for a "super engine" that can power a number of ground and air vehicles, as well as generators using this fuel. (Source: US Army Sgt. David Reardon, 1st Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs, US Army)
I agree that when considering weapons for a particular mission the overriding theme should be kills per dollar spent. With the way we fight all the low intensity/counterinsurgency ops going on; the cost per kill goes way up thanks to the 'precision weapons revolution'.
I am a big fan of the civil war Gen. W.T. Sherman. He had a simple philosophy: War is hell, so you make it as bad as you can; the faster the enemy surrenders, the faster you can make friends.
I say use the big, dumb, cheap bombs and accept the colateral damage. Overkill is OK. It is all the extra damage that makes the enemy reconsider his life choices.
But don't forget that we still have peer adversaries. China is not an honest actor and Putin would love nothing less than to go back to his Soviet roots. We still need the big ticket items to counter their advances.
Whatever cuts the military budget, I cool with. It seems so silly to spend billions on advanced tech that never gets used. Most combatants the USA faces are irregular/rebel/civilian militants with simple weapons.
Wind and solar definitely make boring targets. You just can't get the impressive secondary detonations that give you a warm fuzzy during BDA.
I was just speaking strictly form factors - Petroleum can be more readily distributed and concealed (admittedly a lot of effort) than the high output wind and solar technologies that I am aware of. Wind can't get away from having tall structures (or kites). Solar is highly reflective and requires a lot of area.
However, with the growing backlash against wind and solar partly because of these reasons, perhaps solutions will be found. I just believe it is more appropriate to have civilian/private R&D work these issue.
To be fair, I bet there's no more enticing target for a pilot than a fuel tank farm. The phrase "The ensuing fireball" would have to be a favorite of theirs. Blowing up solar arrays would be the same as dropping bombs on any piece of empty desert.
Solar and wind energy just do not give the same energy density that petroleum fuel has.
Fuel 'diversity' is the best policy as TJ notes. Nothing stops a modern military faster than lack of go-go juice.
Solar and wind for military applications is very misguided. The large arrays required to get adequate energy will make a good target when used downrange. I know that I would like our enemies to mark their locations as provacatively.
Military R&D budgets have been used too often to perform research on things that have no practical use on the battlefield. In my opinion, the military should not be looking into things unless they can be used in harm's way.
Sorry, but we have to draw a line somewhere and that seems a reasonable restriction for military R&D. Considering the defense cuts coming our way; I would hate to see some of our useful and fieldable war technology get budget pressure because of something that has little benefit to the mission.
Navy ships do a significant amount of re-fueling at sea, often from tankers, occasionally from carriers. Naval aircraft use JP5, which has a different specific gravity than diesel, plus different BTU/gal lubricity and burn characteristics. Aircraft are less tolerant of fuel differences than perhaps a diesel engine or a stationary Gas Turbine so having one single diesel-ish fuel is the best answer even though it is likely a compromise in some applications. U.S. environmental laws have regulated our diesel fuel to remove some desirable characteristics to the detriment of longevity of the engines burning it. This is notable when reviewing the stated standard overhaul period for engines used in the U.S. versus the same engine being used in Europe. I'd guess much of the research into diesel fuel is to find a way to restore some of those desirable characteristics.
Bob, not sure about the "Navy takes a different method" approach. I know of at least one class of naval ship (details classified) powered by diesel and gas turbine engines (diesel for cruise, GT for combat). The gas turbines in these vessels burn diesel, not kerosene, to simplify fuel storage, supply and delivery.
Kickstarter offers a gazillion ideas for businesses that are seeking start-up funding. The crowdfunding site also features new gadgets from companies struggling to get their product out to customers. We took a look at the gadgets currently featured and found a number of cool ideas that are seeking funding angels.
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