Altair Nanotechnologies Inc. last week signed a $350,000 contract through the US Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey to deliver prototype lithium-ion batteries for use in the Army’s M119A2 105mm lightweight howitzer digitization program.
The towed artillery digitization (TAD) program was developed for the M777A1 155mm howitzer. The digitization package consists of a Digital Fire Control System (DFCS) that provides each howitzer with onboard navigation, digital communication with the Fire Direction Center and automatic weapon pointing capability. Each DFCS consists of:
- The Mission Management Computer;
- The Chief of Section Display;
- Gunner and Assistant Gunner’s Displays;
- The Position/Navigation System (INU, GPS and Vehicle Motion Sensor);
- VHF Combat Net Radio; and,
- Onboard Power Supply.
The light digitization package for the M119A2 is similar to the M777A1’s digital fire control system and gives the gun self-locating and laying capabilities. The package will also allow the gun to fire global positioning system (GPS)-guided munitions.
Altairnano’s lithium titanate batteries can operate effectively in temperature extremes, and also offer rapid charging capabilities. The projected long life of Altairnano technology is also an attribute that will enable the Army to spend fewer resources resupplying standard shorter-lived lithium ion batteries.
Under the contract Altairnano will deliver its prototype batteries (about the size of a motorcycle battery) this fall. Testing will extend into early 2009 with expected acceptance and approval by the US Army to follow. If the Altairnano units are approved for the M119 105mm lightweight gun digitization program, they could be offered for use with the entire 105mm/M119 inventory which currently numbers around 850 guns. Each gun will require between one and three individual batteries. Based on the tests, the exact number is yet to be determined. Altairnano’s lithium titanate batteries are also being considered for similar artillery applications by the US Marine Corps as well, according to the company.
(A hat-tip to Rick!)