Home / News / India /  Why armies may soon turn to e-bikes

After the United States and the UK, the Australian Army's testing of stealth e-bike has triggered a debate whether armies around the world would soon turn to e-vehicles for their quiet missions.  

In October 2021, the Department of Defence Australia put out a video showing military personnel testing new stealth reconnaissance e-bikes in conjunction with the Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle.

Releasing the video, the Australia Defence Department in a statement said that with a top speed of 90km/h and range of 100km, “the stealth reconnaissance e-bikes have improved the regiment’s capability to scout for information while remaining under the detection threshold".

After the trial, Corporal Thomas Ovey explained the advantages the e-bikes provided when gathering information on the battlefield. He said: “The footprint is minimised due to less power, less noise, and you’re not kicking up much dust that could be seen by enemy forces."

In the same year, UK-based i news reported that bikes tailored for war were on show at the Defence and Security Exhibition International arms fair in London.

The report said that several exhibitors at the world’s biggest arms fair were offering heavy-duty, battery-assisted off-road “combat bikes", and special forces were the likely customers of those modern machines.

It further said at least three countries – Denmark, the United Arab Emirates and an unnamed European Nato member – have already bought models being offered by manufacturers, including Jeep, for use by paratrooper units and special forces.

Army's success lies in its strength to get ahead of enemies in combat zones, that require stealth and ability to operate in difficult terrain – e-vehicles offer both. 

E-bikes offer silent drive, which is not possible with IEC (Internal combustion engine) that run on diesel or petrol. Also, these electric bikes are lightweight compared to their ICE counterparts. 

This makes electric bikes manoeuvrable and easy for transportation - which may be needed in forces are patrolling in difficult terrain. 

Besides this, e-bikes offer one more advantage over fuel-run bikes, and that is - heat signature. Heat signature emitted from the combustion engine  makes a vehicle recognizable more easily. This can put army personnel at risk during stealth operations. But an electric vehicle doesn't heat that much. Also, an electric vehicle cools down much faster than an ICE vehicle, which makes it much safer for armed forces.

While e-vehicles may be used for patrolling and reconnaissance, it would take long time for armies to shift to electric for heavy machines. 

According to an article in Defence News, US Army general James McConville recently said that procuring fully electric vehicles for fleet of larger combat vehicles and for the smaller Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is unlikely in the near term. 

In a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing, McConville had said it was far more likely the service will choose hybrid options that can cut fuel consumption by 25% or reduce power consumption when a vehicle is idling.

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