Australian Army soldiers from the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment’s Queensland Mounted Infantry are trialing battery-powered e-bikes for what the defense ministry described as “stealth reconnaissance” missions.
With a top speed of 90km/h and range of 100km, the e-bikes have improved the regiment’s capability to scout for information while remaining under the detection threshold, usually deploying as a detachable element of the Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicle.
Corporal Thomas Ovey was one of the first soldiers to pioneer the new capability as part of 2/14LHR’s (QMI) A Squadron trial, and explained the advantages the e-bikes provided when gathering information on the battlefield.
“It allows us to do safe-handing of information, whether that’s information people have found on the battlefield, or even if one of the troops takes photos on their phone and wants to send it back to headquarters,” Corporal Ovey said.
“They’ll call us up, we’ll get the stealth bikes out, head down there and grab the information. It’s a lot quicker.
“We cover more ground much faster, and it saves time instead of waiting for troops to come to us when they’ve found something.
“It’s easier to punch out the e-bikes and return.”
Aptly named the Stealth B-52, the e-mountain bike has a range of 100km and weighs 51kg. According to the manufacturer, it produces 65dB of noise at 50km/h.
Corporal Ovey outlined the types of tasks he had been using the e-bikes for during training exercises this year.
“It helps us achieve a lot with our reconnaissance work, sighting routes for the Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicle, including reconnaissance of creek lines so we can determine whether we can get the vehicle through,” he said.
Corporal Ovey went on to explain why the e-bikes were superior to a motorbike.
“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,” he said.
“It’s much more effective than a standard motorbike.”
Corporal Ovey said the e-bike also brought some unexpected work benefits.
“We all join the Army to find a little bit of excitement,” he said.
“This is one of those things about the job that’s exciting, fun and awesome.”
The Australian Army expects a trial report on the potential employment of the stealth reconnaissance e-bikes capability in the combat brigades to be provided by the end of the year.
By trialing electric bikes, Australian soldiers are joining their counterparts from New Zealand, who began electric moped trials last year.