On Friday 16 September, the Defence organisation signed a three-year contract with Fokker Aerostructures for the further development of 2000 E-Lighters. This portable lightweight fuel cell is intended to supply the energy for all the equipment carried by soldiers.
What makes the E-Lighter special is that it is powered by diesel instead of, for instance, ethanol. That means that it does not place extra pressure on logistics, since diesel is already used everywhere in military missions as it is. Another logistic improvement is that the battery packs currently used will no longer be necessary. Due to the lower weight and smaller volume of the equipment, the E-Lighter will improve the mobility of military personnel. Military personnel also experience an increased need for this kind of portable energy source due to the growing use of electronic communications and information equipment.
The first design for the E-Lighter was presented to the Defence organisation in 2007. Under the three-year contract, this prototype will be developed into a piece of equipment that will meet the requirements of military practice. Furthermore, the contract contains an option for the production of 2000 units.
The development of the E-Lighter is part of the Improved Operational Soldier System (VOSS) project, which is aimed at modernising the entire range of personal equipment of military personnel. Improvements are sought, for instance, in the areas of body protection and communication and information systems. The end result should be an ergonomic system that also offers protection against varying climatic conditions.
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