Army Pushing Units to Use Lithium AAs over Cheap Alkalines

Lithium TWS 3
U.S. Army equipment officials are encouraging units to use lithium AA batteries rather than the cheaper alkaline version to power thermal weapon sights and night vision gear.

The L91 lithium battery costs more but it lasts a lot longer than the alkaline alternative, according to Project Manager Soldier Sensors and Lasers officials.

Lithium batteries provide up to three times the operating time which will allow soldiers to carry less batteries on dismounted ops, said Joe Pearson, Logistics Management Division director for PM SSL.

The Power-Up-Properly lithium battery campaign is aimed at decreasing soldier load, increasing operational performance and reducing supply cost over time, Pearson said.

Lithium batteries perform better in extreme temperatures. They have an operating range of minus 40 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, Pearson said.

For one thermal weapon sight, soldiers will need eight L91 lithium batteries for each 24 hour period, said Staff Sgt. José R. Salcedo III, who added that you would need about 24 alkaline batteries to get the same performance.

“That comes out to about a pound for each day in weight savings and extra room,” said Salcedo, the S3 Tasking NCO for 2nd Battalion, 504 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.

“Weight is obviously important. On average we carry 100 pounds for a five day patrol. Five less pounds of batteries is a good thing.”

Lithium batteries are more expensive up front. They cost $1.40 to $2.50 per battery compared to alkalines that cost $.60 to $1 each. But over time, units will buy less lithium batteries and increased performance, Army officials say.

“We just want to make our equipment as efficient and as effective as we can,” said Master Sgt. Reiko Carter, the Fielding OPS NCO for PM SSL.

About the Author

Matthew Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at Military.com. He can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.
  • Slag

    That’s totally cool, so issue them them Damn it!

  • Stefan S.

    Yet they can’t give units ammo for ranges GMAFB!

  • Joshua

    People were still using Alkalines? Seriously?

    • DBM

      Joshua,
      The push to go to alkalines started about 17-18 years ago because the “soldier” wanted them and they were cheap and easy to find. Dumb@sses started putting them in PLGRs as HUBs and couldn’t figure out why they lost the keys and other volatile memory when they swapped out main batteries. PM GPS specifically went to alkaline batteries for the DAGR for that reason. None of the high speed gov’t engineers wanted to hear about the differences in performance specs or how cold or extreme hot weather affected the batteries.

    • Hooksdown

      This Old Soldier is gratified to see the Army dragged, kicking and screaming, into the late 20th centrury, at last.

  • Isnogod

    You guys are big in environment polution(depleted Uranium projectiles etc) so you won’t consider this: sympy use 14500 Li-ion cells fill the gaps with dummys. Or is your equipment cheap as a 10¼ Chinese camera and blows of when the voltage differs a little?
    the 14500 may be a little less effective in Wh/kg than Li AA primarys, but you can recharge them or throw them away when you need to “tactically evade”.
    Do something for the environment. please.

    • john stamo

      Buahahahaha! Oh thats funny. Wait, you weren’t kidding? Wow dude get a life.

    • Hooksdown

      Huh?

  • the grunt

    i agree they are better i use them big time

  • 365Powerstroke

    We’ve had the lithium’s for years. So now our thermals last 30 minutes instead of 10 minutes. A bit of an exaggeration maybe, but they sure as hell don’t last a “24 hour period.”

    • Isnogod

      Is it with or without cooling? I had no idea that ther are handheld thermal imaging systems. Only the bolometer ones which fire departments use.

      • dgala

        There are some TI systems out there being used (rather new) by some units that would blow your mind. I was a trainer on some of them. Imagine a thermal imager with so good a “picture” that you can be looking at a bad guy from 2,000 meters and hold up a mugshot and PID the guy before letting loose the sniper.

        • Isnogod

          Do you have a Produkt Name ?

        • Common Sense

          There are plenty which aren’t that good, but are still VERY effective. I agree though, 24hrs is ridiculous. The newer TIs eat batteries to the point that they are hardly worth mounting on a weapon- only really useful for static observation for short periods.

  • bbabbitt

    IF they run out of ammo, they can head up the Lithium batteries and throw them at the enemy. They blow up and make a nice fire.

    • bbabbitt

      Make that “heat up”. Excuse the fat fingers.