Hybrid Air Force aircraft loader demonstration on the horizon

  • Published
  • By Donna Lindner
  • Air Force Research Laboratory
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Anyone that drives an electric hybrid car recognizes the value of energy efficiency. The Air Force Research Laboratory Advanced Power Technology Office is looking to apply and demonstrate this value on a critical piece of military ground support equipment.


The Halvorsen Loader is a diesel-powered, rapidly deployable, high-reach mechanized aircraft loader that can transport and lift up to 25,000 pounds of cargo and load it onto military aircraft.  It is a critical loading system in the Air Force.


In 2017, the Air Force conducted an independent feasibility study to assess the prospects of converting the diesel Halvorsen 25K Loader to a hybrid. The study indicated that the Halvorson could be converted without mission impact. 


The APTO at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base recently awarded a contract to Concurrent Technologies Corporation to design, develop, and test a hybrid repower kit to convert the Halvorsen from diesel to diesel/electric.


The Halvorsen hybrid conversion effort seeks to improve energy efficiency, safety, reliability, maintainability, and operator environmental conditions. CTC projects a 20 to 40 percent energy efficiency improvement with the conversion.


CTC is currently at work developing the system, which brings improvements in energy efficiency, safety, reliability, maintainability and operator environmental conditions. Kit conversion costs are an important element of the demonstration. The team hopes to maximize the use of commercial-off-the-shelf components to keep costs low.


With the addition of batteries, the Halvorsen can be charged from the grid. By maximizing the use of grid power and battery mode, energy costs and engine run times can be reduced. These reduced engine hours translate to reductions in maintenance as well.


Tom Layne, the ground support energy working group lead in APTO, said that the group considered many factors before beginning the project. “We started by seeking an enterprise-wide team to maximize learning and transition opportunities,” Layne said.


“We are ecstatic to demonstrate a hybridized loader with the opportunity to not only increase energy efficiency for the Air Force, but to bolster the quality of life for our maintenance folks by providing them with clean and quiet operations,” said 1st Lt. Michael Morris, APTO project manager for the effort.


“Technology demonstrations like this are very valuable as they allow us to work with the respective program offices and lean further forward in a more risk-tolerant environment. Discovering unknowns with new technology in a single vehicle demonstration is a lot better than discovering them during a full acquisition program. In addition, they allow critical USAF support organizations to start preparing for the introduction of new technologies,” Layne added.


The hybrid Halvorsen demonstration is planned for 2019.


In addition to the AFRL team, the Halvorsen technical demonstration group includes representatives from Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy, Headquarters Air Force Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection, Air Mobility Command, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center – Support Equipment and Vehicle Program Office and the 441st Vehicle Support Chain Operations Squadron.


APTO’s mission is to develop and execute numerous advanced technology demonstrations supporting a comprehensive framework for energy assurance projects that can be replicated across the Air Force.