DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

High-Tech Tarps Stop Weapons System Rust

10/1/2011
By Eric Beidel
When coatings and oils didn’t stem corrosion on its ships, the Navy sought new technology developed by a veteran-run small business.

Shield Technologies Corp. came up with Envelop Protective Covers, which can be installed like normal tarps over parts of ground vehicles, aircraft and ships. The military is currently using more than 20,000 of the covers to protect these assets and associated weapons and artillery. The Navy intends to be using the product on every surface ship in its fleet by the end of the year.

The covers, which come in different military colors including camouflage, consist of a four-layer composite that keeps moisture away from metal. The outermost surface is a waterproof fabric. There is also an absorbent inner matrix that stores water like a diaper and releases it back into the environment when humidity drops below 100 percent. A hydrophobic fabric rests on the metal and wicks away water from its surface.

Government studies show that corrosion costs the military at least $20 billion each year. Ships are built to last up to 40 years, said Bob Ward, chief operating officer for Shield Technologies, and “right now we’re getting 20 to 25 years out of them.” He estimated that Envelop covers could add up to 10 years to the life of equipment.

The company has a team of designers that takes measurements, build prototypes and perform several fittings to establish the size, shape and number of covers needed for a certain system. It takes about 10 of them to protect a helicopter and upwards of 50 to save the metal parts of a Navy destroyer.

The company just delivered 110 covers made for mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles. It takes only one cover to shield an MRAP.

The special screens also are used on the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship. Unfortunately, they can’t be placed over the ship’s engine compartments, which have experienced serious corrosion problems of late.

Topics: Aviation, Science and Engineering Technology

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