Oorah! Marines to get hybrid power generators for the field

Aiming to cut fuel usage by as much as 40 percent, the generators use solar power to help Marines stay powered up longer and more efficiently when forward deployed.

A group of Marines in training at Camp Pendleton in California. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

U.S. Marines may have a reputation for persevering in primitive conditions and dealing with whatever comes their way, but they like their electricity just like everyone else.

Yet bringing fuel-guzzling generators with them when on forward deployment is inefficient work, requiring carting around heavy loads of diesel and taking a toll on the local environment.

But not for much longer. Today, the Office of Naval Research awarded Raytheon a contract to develop a hybrid power generator for the Marines, a system that when completed should help Marines in the field consume as much as 40 percent less fuel than they do today.

Currently, the Marines use generators that consume 100 percent diesel fuel, but the hybrid replacements are expected to rely on a mixture of solar power and diesel. That is thought to provide deployed units with a number of benefits, Raytheon said. First, the generators should cut units' diesel consumption by 40 percent. Second, they will be much cleaner. Third, they will cost less to operate due to substantial reductions in fuel usage; and lastly, it means Marines units will have one less vulnerability -- large stores of fuel being moved in slow convoys -- that combat enemies can exploit.

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