Rolls-Royce hybrid engine concept could boost tank stealth

Rolls-Royce Power Systems has unveiled a new concept diesel-electric hybrid tank engine that it says could increase stealth and boost performance.

The Ajax family of vehicles is powered by Rolls-Royce's mtu engines
The Ajax family of vehicles is powered by Rolls-Royce's mtu engines - Stuart Hill/MOD

Based around the company’s mtu diesel engines, the hybrid drive concept will see high-performance batteries charged when the engine is running on diesel power. Vehicles can then operate in an ‘anti-idling’ all-electric mode when stationary, with electrical power delivered silently. According to Rolls, this will provide significant tactical benefits, reducing vehicle noise and thermal footprint while cutting fuel consumption.

The hybrid drive will also enable tanks to travel with reduced noise at slow speeds, assisted by a customised silencer. When more power is required, for example in combat, the electrical power can be tapped to help boost acceleration and top-end speed.

“This allows us to utilise the advantages of hybridisation in all operating modes,” said Knut Müller, senior vice president, Global Governmental Business at Rolls-Royce Power Systems.

- Rolls-Royce

“Future armoured military land vehicles will require more power for propulsion and on-board power supply for the electronic systems. At the same time, they will be designed for a different tactical approach in the field. Our future mtu propulsion solutions for this application take both of these requirements into account.”

Around 4,000 mtu Series 199 engines have been produced since 2000, according to Rolls-Royce, with 6- and 8-cylinder variants powering NATO military vehicles including the Boxer 8x8 wheeled vehicle, the Ajax family vehicles, and US combat vehicles such as the M10 Booker. Alongside the new mtu hybrid drive, Rolls-Royce has also announced a new 10-cylinder mtu variant with a max output of 1,100kW. Both engines are launching at the Eurosatory defence trade fair, taking place in Paris from 17 to 21 June.

“This [hybrid] propulsion concept will expand the operational possibilities of future tracked armoured vehicles in a way that was previously hardly imaginable,” said Christian Wolf, head of Development for Military Engines and Systems at Rolls-Royce Power Systems.

“We are convinced that we are making an important contribution to the further development of the defence capabilities of NATO and its allies. For the first time, vehicle manufacturers will be able to realise completely new vehicle concepts, whereby the hybrid concept can in principle be implemented with any engine series from the mtu military propulsion programme.”

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