Rust and Roll For F-22; HASC Watches JSF

Rust and Roll For F-22; HASC Watches JSF

Rust is not something the average person thinks much about when it comes to designing high-tech weapons. But several years ago I reported on a major missile test defense test that was ruined because a part rusted that helped hold the missile in place before liftoff. And in February the entire F-22 fleet was grounded “due to poorly designed drainage in the cockpit.” The affected parts were ejection seat rods. Congress is worried that similar problems could afflict the Joint Strike Fighter and has requested a report about lessons learned from the F-22’s experience.

Regardless of how lowly rust might seem at first glance, it is a huge problem for the military, costing about $20 billion each year. According to the House Armed Services Committee, roughly $7 billion of that rust is preventable. So, the committee, doing its job of congressional oversight, wants to substantially increase the budget of a little known Pentagon entity, the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight, to improve the military’s ability to stop rust from crippling major weapons systems.

“The Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight has a proven record of successfully reducing corrosion costs, with a 50-to-1 return on investment on the 169 programs that have been implemented through it,” the HASC says in the summary of its bill. So the committee is increasing the office’s budget to a paltry $10.8 million, up from a tiny request of $3.6 million. Doing the math, that should result in a return of $540 million to the taxpayer. Kudos to Daniel Dunmire, director of Corrosion Policy and Oversight.

Of course, there’s usually a rub, and there is a little one this time. The HASC says that it has not yet gotten a “congressionally directed report” from Dunmire about those lessons learned from the F-22’s rust problems:  “The Committee notes that it has yet to receive the congressionally directed report from the Director of Corrosion Policy and Oversight assessing the corrosion control lessons learned from the F-22 Raptor fleet—which was grounded in February 2010 for corrosion on ejection seat rods due to poorly designed drainage in the cockpit—as they apply to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.”

We hear little evidence of congressional irritation and expect the prospect of a bulging purse will only encourage OSD to cough up the report forthwith. Dunmire, who responded promptly to our inquiry about when the report would be done, said it should be ready by August.

For those interested in the corrosion issue writ large, have a look at this Government Accountability Office briefing.

Join the Conversation

Do the math again, Colin. At a 50:1 ROI, a $10.8M investment should yield a $540M return.

So ACC & AFMC cannot maintain their own aircraft properly that we have to have a special DoD office to address as trivial a problem as rust. I’m glad all the exorbitant investment in composite materials for promised O&M Savings is paying off. Not. How Sad.

Back in ’89, the “spec” was “there shall be no water used in the cockpit.” Most people (then) agreed that contrary to what happened in other eras, cleaning out the debris from combat was not to be accomplished with a high-pressure hose. Design may have taken that too far by assuming that drips from rain water or landing on a wet runway were not a factor. But somebody made a trade-study that suggested the USAF fighter pilot would be better served (probably a signature issue) if rain run-off was ignored.

I am sure there is was an E-4 at Langley who probably asked “What were they thinking?” when he was told to mop up the first puddle they found.

Right on point. Only in the Pentagon do we need an office to do the job that the program managers were supposed to do right in the first place. I bet there’s even a DoD Instruction or Directive telling the program managers that corrsion control is part of their charter in developing new systems.

That is what we call a mistake! Fixed and tks for noting it.

If the narcissistic high-tech big spending so called elite airpower thinkers cannot manage rust, should we even care what their opinions on force structure should be? Promoting lowly maintenance, acquisition, or support officers to General Officer billets instead of treating them as a lower caste might be a start to fixing USAF.

The fix is fairly cheap and should have been a requirement from the start, The military has been aware of POR15 for years now but are just now seriously looking at it for our gear. Many foreign countries are using it on thier industrial complexes because it stops rust — prevents it from coming back — is resistant to almost all chemicals — and wont come off saving thousands in maintenance and repairs. If all of our gear including tanks, ships, and planes were painted with POR15 and POR15 armour shield, rust would not be an issue and refurbishment cost would reduce greatly. I use it on all my vehicles, boat, dive gear,and small arms and it works great. (check out POR15​.com)

I remember an F-15 that was scrapped for corrosion in the cockpit. Seems the pilot was bringing back live shellfish from the Med, and the container sprung a leak. He reported the problem, but the resulting cleanup process was not thorough enough. F-15s are not designed for use in saltwater environments.

In 1995, I opened an intricate geared 5″-38 gunsight part from CV-5, the original USS Yorktown. The spare Buships part had been routed here and there and ended up in a warehouse in Wisconsin fifty years after the ship was sunk. The sealed package contained a small moisture savaging device. Condition? Perfect. Old engineering can work if you go through it step by step and pay attention to the basics.

Oh, boy. Wonder how long until we get to see an article about “rusty F-22s and F-35s” (massive eye roll).

Corrosion on aircraft and other military equipment cannot always be prevented. Most corrosion on aircraft happens in areas that are not regularly checked. Since corrosion is something that ruins valuable equipment I am not surprised that the pentagon has an office for this.

Rust in particular and corrosion in general were problems that sucked up a lot of my 8 years in the Navy. Beyond chipping and painting the ship itself, as an avionics tech I ended up scrubbing and resealing almost every circuit board and chassis I worked on. It’s fine with me that the DoD is willing to put some expert corrosion people in a room to make recommendations for other programs to learn from.

Aren’t F-22s deploying to Alaska? Won’t the pilots end up tracking snow into the cockpit on their boots? Aren’t F-22s deploying to hot/moist places like Okinawa? Won’t the fricking cold interior fuselage end up condensing ambient moisture after a flight?

Now I’m a design engineer: anyone who doesn’t design military products for hot/cold/wet/dry environments is an amateur and shouldn’t get paid, let alone get follow-on contracts. Anyone who writes a requirement like “there will be no water in the cockpit” clearly hasn’t been outdoors much.

Every acft in existance has experienced severe corrosion problems at one time or another. That the problem was quickly identified and corrective action taken is what matters here. The F-22 is still a relatively new weapon system and some items are going to come up. That this was severe enough to ground the fleet and issue an Urgent Action TCTO does raise eyebrows, but it is part of the teething process.

Have you ever maintained aircraft before?

Obviously not since you don’t even know what kind of maintenance actions it takes to prevent, find, and remove corrosion. Rust is NOT a trivial problem. We have sections of maintenance squadrons dedicated to corrosion control. All maintenance inspections requires attention to corrosion. If rust was so trivial, we wouldn’t invest so much time looking for it or trying to prevent it.

Also, composite materials cannot replace titanium or steel in certain aircraft structural components… from either the design being too complex, too cost prohibitive, etc.

A good portion of our military hardware is made out of good old fashion iron and steel. I’m sure much of the $billions Congress says we spend on rust comes from our ground vehicle fleet, which numbers in the hundreds of thousands of vehicles.

The US military DOES in fact use POR-15. But POR-15 does have it’s limitations. For starters, aircraft internal bays are dirty as jets are always leaking (not a lot, just drips at a time). There are various oils of all sorts, and they will remove POR-15.

For aircraft external bodies, POR-20 is available for aluminum as it is high-temp (up to 1400 degrees). However there’s a lot of tiny debris flying through the air, and when an aircraft is flying at high speeds the tiny debris chips away at the paint. Corrosion can, and does, attack at the exposed areas however we typically find and remove them before it becomes a problem. The current composition of RAM (Radar Absorbent Material) is classified, so I can’t say whether or not it’s rated for corrosion prevention.

Even on F-15’s and F-16’s that have been around for over 30 years, they are still finding problems with the designs that need TCTO’s to fix. Such as when the entire F-15 fleet was grounded back in 2007 because of failing longerons that caused a jet to break apart in flight.

Here’s something to think about. Moisture in a fighter cockpit with poor drain, tells bme the the relief tube is haveing a clog problen. Urin and aluminun makes corrision real easiloy.…..

Even F-22s don’t spend their entire ground life indoors or under shelter. Pilots enter and exit the aircraft during rainstorms. Also a canopy may be left open on the ramp on a hot day and not get closed before a quick rain shower blows through.

We already have corrosion control management programs that’s been in place for a long time, and is an active part of aircraft and equipment design. Aircraft, ships and armored vehicles are so complex that it’s hard to find all the design faults early on.… many don’t even surface until later into production, or even service life.

It’s not like we’re treating this as a recent issue. It didn’t first become an issue with the F-35, nor with the advent of aircraft almost a hundred years ago, or iron ships 150 years ago… corrosion has been an issue since man started using metal thousands of years ago.

I am an “evil defense contractor” in the corrosion control business. The military has such a huge inventory of equipment that a separate corrosion control office is a necessity. Unfortunately, their main thrust is dealing with the symptoms rather than preventing the disease. The Navy is doing the best job, and the other services are getting better and more aware of the problem. Control of corrosion is not as simple as people think. I find one of the major barriers is that uniformed military leaders don’t count soldier/sailor/Marine/airman hours as a cost. If they were on the civilian side, and had to account for man hours, they would have a different attitude. Lest someone construe that as an antimilitary comment, I spent my 30 years in uniform.

Don’t forget that due to the nature of fighter aircraft operations, you have to balance mission operations and maintenance. Let’s also not forget that there are many career-minded maintenance officers and SNCO’s who want to seek the highest mission capability rates and maintenance fix-rates because their career advancement is based on these stats. And that right there is the root cause of a majority of the Air Force’s problems… careerists among the officer and NCO ranks.

Brought to you by THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER AT WORK!! :)

What a great discussion. On management development, I side with StopWastingMyTax$, Trophy and a few others. Appreciation for total job performance is focused on narrow guidelines, making management officers narrowly qualified.
One major problem in the private sector is that CSO’s (sales officers) were promoted to CEO positions in corporate America ca. 1980’s. They replaced COO’s and CFO’s in that role, I guess because they sounded better. If I listen to a saleman very long though, the monologue impels me to talk to the manager, mechanic, or secretary. I get bored with hype instead of info.

I don’t have a problem with a central corrosion specialist agency as much as I have a problem with USAF not maintaining the aircraft correctly. One of the big problems is misallocation of resources. I believe that reaching for the stars high tech high risk solutions have no place in MDAPs. The Nation would be better off with incrementally improving proven designs — such as improving F-15s for corrosion resistsnace — than with spending ultra-billions on R&D, and skimping on the O&M.

I would bet F-22 maintenance is done on the cheap, and that the heroic frontline troops do not have adequate resources to properly inspect the aircraft. And then the cost of grounding the whole fleet after major problem has materialized and fixing up everything costs a heck of a lot more than if systems were maintained properly to begin with. F-22 is a sick joke on the American Taxpayer. It should have been canceled many years and many billions of dollars years ago. I will pre-empt you F-22 lovers by asking you how much more defense from a national perspective could we have bought with properly engineered solutions than by going all in on this Cold War relic. The Air Force’s first core value is Integrity First. They compromised that by focusing like a laser beam on the F-22, and failing to address the rest of the needs of USAF and the Nation.

maybe I’m the ony one who is offended by you singling out maintenance. If you think Maintenance Officers are to blame due career mindedness and that’s why they do poor maintenance, I guess they are poor at career mindedness as well, since USAF flag officers generally wear pilot wings.

The rust issue is a major problem in hitech equipment. Jammed up actuators, etc, is not what you want at 35k ft altitude. However it can be solved with a bit of common sense and attention to detail.
Speaking of details, it is so funny that this site is censoring the common word used in aircraft parlance to house the pilot, that being a c-o-c-k-p-i-t. However thats probably more important than rusty a/c actuators. Sheesh cockpit, censored, sheesh, mental retardation of the liberals is spreading virally to this site.

Poorly designed drainage in the cockpit? I spent 8 years in the US Navy working on F-14A’s and the
standard operating procedure was to close the canopy during inclement weather. I know that corrosion from salt air was a problem that was addressed on a weekly basis. I doubt that any measure can mitigate all corrosion,
but let common sense prevail. If there is a part exposed to drastic changes in air temperature and pressure, it needs corrosion control measures. Most corrosion can be handled with paint and if it can’t, then clean it on a regular basis.

A huge contributor to the corrosion problem is the insistence that effective anti-corrosion treatments be abandoned in favor of less effective “green” treatments. That concern is valid for high-volume consumer products, but is not the way to go for a piece of military hardware that has to function properly everytime

I have a cheap fix WD40 thank you thank you no pay me

Um, I didn’t single out careerists ONLY in maintenance. That last statement was against careerists in general.

Rust is not new to the services, whats new is that the commanders are not held responsible for their equipment, there used to be a program before that was called PM preventive maint the responsibility of the driver or crew and the final responsebility was the commanding officer, but that went away long time ago, now we pay the bill. they should go back to make that commander and driver or crew chief to take responsibility. Old Chief warrant officer.

Yes of unique enviroment, multiple million dollar platform ‚and this specific platform inquired very little corrosion. Is it because the designers and maintainers work together, maybe. Is it because the acquisition of the platform required the platform to operation 100% in all DOD enviroments, yes. Did the designers and developers work out of the box when investigating and developing a method to solve this problem, yes.

It appears the USAF Acquisition Program Office and the Acceptance Organization personnel that have been either promoted, moved on, or retired had other reasons to allow the Prime contractor and some subcontractors to not follow the source selection contract.…and now the AF premiere aircraft platform is costing millions to be grounded, investigated, and then solve this problem.

I guess the Senior Staff for Operations, Acquisition, Contracts and Sustainment roll over instead of investigating the contractual obligation that are part of this multi-Billion dollar project; Field Environment issues that could be impacting the problem and then to work an arrangement out that solves this catastrophe. To allow this to happen is a Sensior Management failure.…in my opinion both are at fault.

Good Afternoon folks,

Everyone missed the obvious solution to the rust in the cockpit problem. It’s called “Depends”, they come in handy when AF pilots think they might be going into combat.

Byron Skinner

how much more defense from a national perspective could we have bought with properly engineered solutions than by going all in on this Cold War relic”

If the F-22 is a “relic” what does that make everything else? Dinosaurs? Pull your head out man.

The old saying is “Rusts happens.” Most modern aircraft are built out of aluminum as their primary material, and composites are now become the vogue. I think people are taking the title too literally, as in this case ‘rust’ is actually in reference to ‘corrosion.’ When you say ‘rust’ people usually think of that red-brown stuff, and is only specific to iron and iron alloys(steel). When Aluminum corrodes, it is a whitish powder, looking like freckles on the surface. Different metals, when they corrode have different residues. A good maintenance technician usually knows what to look for.
That being said, whatever chemical compound that may be good in preventing corrosion in iron & steel may end up causing corrosion in other metals, and/or delamination in composites. There is is no ‘universal’ applicant to prevent corrosion, at least that I know of.

This is the basic reason F22’s have ANY water corrison problem.
Early design criteria accounted for just such a problem. The LM Team debated endlessly over this. They had a Corrison team set of experts that would fill a Pentagon Wing.
Essentially, the USAF finally said, we will live with it.
Semper FI

Aren’t F-22s deploying to Alaska? Won’t the pilots end up tracking snow into the cockpit on their boots? Aren’t F-22s deploying to hot/moist places like Okinawa? Won’t the fricking cold interior fuselage end up condensing ambient moisture after a flight?

Because you are so heroic taking potshots online.

Good lord, what’s up with the profanity filter on this site?!? “****pit” & “sal****er” Give me a break!

Right — on!
I’ve spent 35 years in the aviation industry and corrosion has always been a problem.

Aircraft operate in the most inhospitable places on earth. Very cold to very hot, humidity, salts and chemical corrosion.

Corrosion is fought through maintenance, mitigation and replacement. Learning how long a weapons system can go between these is based on data accumulation and analysis, then taking these lessons learned and applying them to other programs.

Sadly, the ignorant do not understand and the idiots will never understand.

Wait a minute! We have multimillion dollar military aircraft that we need to a dehumidifier in?
What the heck are they thinking, these planes are meant to be used to fight wars, not keep
under glass somewhere.

Ground vehicles, ships, and aircraft all suffer from corrosion problems. It’s not something that is going away, unless we somehow design a vehicle made from non-metallic materials.

F-22s don’t have relief tubes, but the pilots carry do piddle packs on long flights

The Airforce has found that WD40 causes corrosion.

This could be one of the biggest slaps in our own faces because now we have other countries laughing at us because we have a rust issue? and that grounds some of the most powerful aircraft in the world?

By us waiting for the next best thing i.e. weaponry, aircraft, vehicles and whatever else the government want to buy such as I phones and Droids, this could lead to our own undoing. There are many countries that aren’t exactly best friends with the U.S. right now and most Americans that read the newspaper would know this.

Honestly I believe in using weapons that we have while researching new weaponry. Just helps a person sleep easier at night.

Corrosion is real easy to prevent, just coat the part with a high quality epoxy. (assuming its not exposed to too high temperatures. Then you can use ceramic coatings.)


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