Senate Committee Wants the Air Force To Go “Green” on Helicopters

verzellenberg /
verzellenberg /

In a report concerning a draft of the 2024 Department of Defense Appropriations bill that was issued on July 28th, the Senate Appropriations Committee expressed significant concerns that the Air Force had yet to delve into the idea of electric helicopter technology.

“The Committee believes that there is significant potential for the development of cost-effective [eVTOLs] that can serve the needs of the warfighter, particularly in the role of personnel recovery, medevac, and logistic resupply. The Committee is concerned that the Air Force does not have a sufficient plan for the testing, acquisition, and fielding of this capability into the force in the near term.”

As it presently sits, the Airforce has 90 days to release all current research and development progress concerning vertical take-off with electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs). Additionally, a timeline for when they plan on using them as a normal operation. Reportedly, the eVTOLs can take off just like a helicopter and are fully electric, so they have zero emissions. Yet they also weigh a significant amount more and cannot travel as far as their dino juice-powered competitors.

Amprius Technologies is a U.S. Army-backed manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries for mobility applications. Their specialty is helicopters, they found that while they may be quieter and greener until they can be mass-produced enough to make them cheap, they won’t be widely used. Citing a reported 50-mile range per charge for the eVTOL versus a 500-mile tank in a helicopter, it simply makes no sense to use the eVTOL right now except in very limited-use situations.

All of this is the result of a provision in a bill from 2022 that the Democrats introduced to the Senate. It would require 75% of the non-tactical vehicles to be fully electric and made in America. Separately, the US Army has joined in on this idea and committed to starting their transition by 2027 and being fully electric in their non-tactical fleet by 2035.

This incentive to go fully green has been supported wholeheartedly by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. Especially if the Department of Defense will go fully electric in non-tactical by 2030. “I think we can get there as well… and I do think that reducing our reliance on the volatility of globally traded fossil fuels, where we know that global events such as the war in Ukraine can jack up prices for people back home, it does not contribute to energy security.”

Shoving this green energy policy on our military is by far the most irresponsible thing the DoD can do. The technology simply is not capable of supplying the distance, budgetary, or long-term concerns of the military. Much like tactical vehicles, these vehicles are best being serviced by the newest privates. It needs to be simple, and easily adjusted. These electric cars aren’t delivering that, or anything close to it.

The phrase “military grade” is not a phrase anyone who ever served will say as a point of pride or like it makes an item better. Instead, they know it means the very minimum of standards and has the lowest cost per unit possible. It won’t be durable, it won’t be tough, and it will need to be repaired by somebody who couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with instructions written on the heel.

That’s also why the phrase has not been used by a single electric vehicle company. They know their components don’t measure up in terms of durability and being private proof. Since it doesn’t measure up, it doesn’t make the grade and doesn’t need to be chosen simply to push a liberal “save the planet” agenda. Remember, this is the military, they need to keep their standards.