by John Major
VP, Government Relations and Military Liason
A joint development team from Achates Power and Cummins Corporate Research and Technology has been running at full throttle for over a year to develop an opposed-piston Advanced Combat Engine (ACE) for the U.S. Army. The engine is part the US Army’s 30-year strategy to modernize tactical and combat vehicles.
After several years of technology demonstrations and an intense competition, the Army kicked off the path to production by selecting the Achates Power / Cummins team last summer. This $47.4 million contract through the National Advanced Mobility Consortium propels the 1000 HP 4-cylinder ACE variant to Technology Readiness Level 6, which will make it suitable for in-vehicle and real-world testing.
In March, our single-cylinder test asset passed an aggressive 80-hour durability test; and, the Army displayed a scale model of the engine at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Alabama.
Several big milestones are coming up:
- October 2018: A full-scale show model of the engine will be on display at the 2018 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition.
- November 2018: The joint Achates Power and Cummins development team will present initial engine testing results to the Army.
- Mid-2019: The ACE engine will present a technology demonstrator – TRL 6 (Technology Readiness Level).
- Mid-2020: Demonstration in a US Army combat vehicle.
There is a lot of work to be done. The funding that the Army has planned will deliver Low Rate Initial Production of the first ACE variant in 2022. To fully realize the benefits of this architecture we’ve started plans for additional variants, and we are working with the platform teams and military OEMs to make sure that spiral insertion is primed as the variants come on line. All of this while focusing on and flawlessly executing the ACE program.
A powerpack featuring the ACE engine will deliver double the power density of any existing Military-off-the-shelf powerpack at half the cost. This kind of capability does not currently exist, and will enable vehicle optimization for survivability, package, range, and lethality that has previously never been possible. Until the selection of the Achates Power / Cummins team, the Army has not had a plan to feasibly execute such a game-changing engine. Now that we know how to do it, we owe it to our warfighters to deliver such capability, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a small part of the team that is doing it. I look forward to sharing future updates!