Recently, our aerospace group reached a major milestone in terms of expertise and capabilities. Not long ago, the United States Air Force changed the requirements for refinishing certain parts of military aircraft – external fuel tanks in this particular case. The new requirement insists on strict adherence to processes, materials, inspection and documentation. Needless to say, these requirements aren’t easy to fulfill.
Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, is largely responsible for refinishing external fuel tanks on F16 combat aircraft. The tanks were supplied by Lockheed Martin, who then assumed responsibility for application certification of contractors performing the actual refinish work.
Again, none of which comes easy. Certification involves extensive on-site training and requires the contractor to follow Lockheed Martin procedures to the letter, including materials management as well as coatings application.
According to Layne Clarke, Aerospace General Manager, “First, they had to trust us to handle and stock the material. Then, they had to trust us to apply it.”
The material in this case is a “low observability” finish coating commonly referred to as Radar Absorbing Material (RAM). It’s designed to reduce the aircraft’s radar signature. Updating the aircraft with the new finish is referred to as “Have Glass Modification.”
Presently, our aerospace group in Utah is the only distributor in the United States that has passed Have Glass Modification certification, earning the military’s “Secure Line of Distribution” designation. Clarke added, “This situation is somewhat unique. Normally, the U.S. Government wouldn’t outsource this activity.”
It took a coordinated team approach by our experienced aerospace group to satisfy the certification requirements, and everyone involved played a crucial role. “The biggest accomplishment was for Hill Air Force Base to trust us with the techniques, materials, and processes required for Have Glass Modification certification,” commented Clarke.
This dedication to new technology, procedures and certifications is at the heart of not only our aerospace group, but our automotive, recreational vehicle, and industrial groups as well. We work tirelessly to stay on the forefront of technology so that we may continue to bring best practices and the latest products and techniques from a wide range of industries to our customers.