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Air Force Discusses Corrosion Control

Monday, January 18, 2016

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Coatings and corrosion control help more than just metal—they also help in national defense.

A recent study by Bio Water Synergistics—a company that specializes in aerospace wash equipment for the military—determined that up to 80 percent of an Air Force aircraft’s maintenance costs during its service time can be contributed to corrosion.

To help fight those costs, the military keeps its own “paint barns,” according to a recent statement by the 51st Maintenance Squadroom.

“Metals have a tendency to return to their natural state,” said Tech. Sgt. Sameth Mao, 5st MXS NCO, at the Osan Air Base in South Korea.

Photos: U.S. Air Force /Staff Sgt. Amber Grimm

To help fight corrosion costs, the Air Force keeps its own “paint barns,” according to a recent statement by the 51st Maintenance Squadroom.

Mao, who is in charge of corrosion control at the Air Base, also said, “Being outside in the elements and even time can accelerate the corrosion factor. It’s a man-made object so it will always corrode.”

Long-Term Commitment

The statement, which was released through Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS), noted that most Air Force aircraft is several decades old. Crews wash them down every 90 days to remove the dirt, grime and grease build-up that can prevent otherwise hidden chips in the protective coating from being discovered.

Repairing and repainting also is important to the aircraft life, but it is a time-consuming process. It takes about five work days to sand, prime and coat an aircraft, said Mao. After that, the new paint has to cure for 72 hours. The temperature in the hangar must be kept between 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the paint to cure properly.

Re-coating Process

Staff Sgt. Alan Johnson, aircraft structures maintainer, explained the Air Force’s process:

“The advanced protective coating is expected to last for 10 years. Per the [Air Force Instructions], every 10 years the aircraft are repainted, but required touchups are often done in the meantime," he said.

Staff Sgt. Alan Johnson, 51st Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintainer, applies a layer of advanced protective paint to aircraft panels at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea.

After the crew determines which areas of the aircraft need painting, he continued, they start masking off (i.e., putting down tape and paper) all the areas that cannot be painted. Once all areas are masked, they sand the areas, feathering and blending any chipped or nicked areas to provide a smooth surface so the finished product looks even, he added.

“After sanding is complete, we wipe the areas to be painted to remove all dust and debris, and once the areas are clean we spray a light coat of primer,” said Johnson. “When the primer has dried we spray the top coat then let it dry.”

The Air Force returns its aircraft to service once the maintenance procedures are complete, the statement notes.

   

Tagged categories: Aerospace; Asia Pacific; Corrosion; Corrosion control coatings; Corrosion inhibitors; Corrosion protection; Corrosion resistance; Military; North America; Protective coatings; Quality Control

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