Air Force seeks to boost manufacturing and affordability of lithium ion military battery power

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WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio, 11 July 2011. U.S. Air Force researchers are kicking off a program to establish a long-term, viable, world-class domestic manufacturer of high energy density lithium ion (Li-ion) military battery technology that is high-performance, well-built, reliable, and affordable for military applications such as long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), portable power for Army and Marine Corps infantrymen, long-endurance autonomous systems, tactical vehicles, unattended sensors, as well as reconnaissance and surveillance systems.

Officials of the Air Force Materiel Command Wright Research Site at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, released a broad agency announcement Friday (BAA-11-17-PKM) for the Defense Production Act Title III Lithium Ion Battery Production for Military Applications project. These Li-ion military batteries should have an energy density of 250 Watt hours per kilogram (Wh/kg) at a continuous 250 Watts per kilogram (W/kg).

Li-ion battery technology has advanced far enough to be commercially viable at energy densities larger than 250 Watt hours per kilogram, and could have a big influence on military systems, Air Force researchers say.

The program seeks to improve the technical capabilities and the business viability of domestic high-energy-density Li-ion battery suppliers to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) by helping to create a flexible production line able to build several battery sizes for military and commercial applications at affordable prices, even in low production runs.

Several companies could be chosen to participate in the program, Air Force officials say. The first phase of this multi-phase effort will be one year, during which the chosen contractors will demonstrate their technologies and their manufacturing processes. The second phase will be three years, during which the contractors will tool-up for low-rate initial production.

Contracts should be awarded by the end of this year. The total program value is about $24.4 million, Air Force researchers say. Companies interested should respond no later than 22 Aug. 2011. For questions, concerns, or to submit proposals, contact the Air Force's Cathie Stropki by phone at 937-255-5404, by e-mail at, or by post at Det 1 AFRL/PKMD, Bldg. 167, 2310 8th St., Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 45433-7801.

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