Paintless Aircraft Technology in Military Aircraft
One of the mostly costly undertakings in maintaining a military aircraft is the painting of the aircraft. After a few years, or flights, the paint needs to be stripped off and the aircraft needs to be repainted. No mechanical work can be done to the aircraft during this procedure, so the mechanical and cosmetic maintenance is done separately. Not only does this take time and money, but every part of painting and repainting aircrafts has a negative effect on the environment. There is, however, a solution to the problem. It is Paintless Aircraft Technology.
A recent project named Joint Strike Fighter Program, or “JSFP”, was launched with various parties joining forces. The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, 3M Corporation and the Boeing Corporation came together to develop and test the new Painless Aircraft Technology. Ongoing flight test are being carried out with a F-16 Fighting Falcon, a S-33 Viking and a C130 Hercules. It is important to ensure that both carrier aircraft and supersonic aircraft can benefit from the technology.
It has been proved that aircraft sometimes suffer from weight growth. This occurs when aircrafts are repainted a number of times and the paint starts to accumulate on the aircraft. Carrying extra weight can dramatically influence the performance of an aircraft. With the application of the new paintless materials, this will no longer be a concern. The paintless materials consist of a thin polymer film that can be computer generated to the exact shape and size that is needed. Application of the film reduces the time to cover an aircraft dramatically and because no hazardous materials are used during the procedure, other divisions of maintenance are able to perform their duties while the aircraft is being coated.
The paint replacement film is hoped to reduce maintenance costs, corrosion, fuel consumption and maintenance time. If painting aircrafts can be eliminated, danger to the environment can also end. Once the extensive testing of materials, the effects on the environment, vigorous flight tests and wind tunnel tests have been completed, it is hoped that this new Paintless Aircraft Technology will become the standard in the future. Improvements might even lead to the coating of vessels, who is to say? This project has already proved that there is no limit to technology and that the future is an unknown destination, waiting for people like the Joint Strike Fighter Program, to explore its possibilities.