As they focus on minimising the life cycle costs of platforms and systems, one of the more promising targets for military managers is equipment corrosion, which represents the largest avoidable cost—$23 billion a year—to the US Department of Defense.
The problem is an age-old enemy, as moisture is the most significant driver of environmental corrosion. The military relies on huge stocks of bulky, expensive equipment that would be cost-prohibitive to store inside fixed structures.
Fortunately, advances in protective technology are offering significant returns on investment by reducing environmental degradation and leading to reduced costs for maintenance and replacement parts.
One of the most prominent players in the protective systems arena is Shield Technologies Corporation (STC), which offers a range of products for weapon systems, shipboard assets, artillery, ground combat vehicles and both rotary and fixed-wing aircraft called Envelop Protective Covers. Developed with the help of a US Navy small business innovation grant a decade ago, the products are deployed throughout the US Navy as well as in many parts of the other services. The US Army recently acquired the covers for its entire stock of howitzers, for example.
“It’s the only 100 per cent waterproof but breathable cover that incorporates a vapour corrosion inhibitor to actively fight corrosion. That’s really what makes us unique,” Mike Dupasquier, STC’s chief operating officer, explained.
“The military has done various studies, and those have shown that Envelop will reduce environmental degradation and corrosion by 95 per cent compared to previous maintenance methods, which vary from covers to plain tarps and other methods. The Envelop product protects from an array of elements, from moisture to water intrusion, UV, sand, heat, impact and corrosion.”
“The cost of the covers represents pennies to the dollar compared to the repair costs that otherwise would be needed,” Dupasquier added. “The return on investment for the howitzer product was greater than forty to one. This is just the cost of one cover, but doesn’t include the lifespan over the entire life of the system, as presumably the military will have it longer than just one cover.
“If you factor in savings from extending equipment life, you’re talking 250 or 300 to one.”