Armor: April 6, 2001


The US Army used the AGT-1500 turbine engine in the M1-series of tanks, and found that it needed twice the fuel of a comparable diesel engine. Turbine engines are lighter than diesels, but take up the extra space and weight in a larger fuel tank to produce the same range. The turbine engine does provide better acceleration, and the M1 can "bolt" from one battle position to another faster than any tank in the world. The problem is it takes twice as much fuel to refill that tank, which became a problem in the Gulf War as the speed of a tank division was limited to the speed of its refueling trucks, and its range of operation was limited by how many sets of refueling trucks there were. After years of tests that everyone thought would result in selecting an advanced diesel engine to replace the turbine, the Army instead selected the LV-100 turbine. While the LV-100 is more efficient than the AGT-1500, it is still nowhere near as efficient as a diesel. While the Army claims that the LV-100 uses 50% less fuel than the AGT-1500, independent tests have put this savings at only 36%. While the Army insists that the LV-100 is "within a few percentage points" of an advanced diesel, independent tests show it will burn about 20% more fuel at full speed. Worse, LV-100 fuel consumption at idle speeds (something tanks do a lot) is twice that of any comparable diesel.--Stephen V Cole


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