CORROSION BURDENS U.S. MILITARY BUDGETS, READINESS
By Bob Ward, COO Shield Technologies
Corrosion is one of the largest preventable costs to our military today. At more than $23 billion annually, American taxpayers are paying mightily, yet still losing the fight against rust.
Not only does corrosion waste money, but it also wastes our military’s precious time. Every hour a serviceman or servicewoman spends battling corrosion with wire brushes, crocus cloth and lubricants is an hour they are not able to spend preparing for the wide variety of missions they have to perform.
With the Department of Defense reducing budgets and manpower, the U.S. military will be faced with an even bigger challenge trying to sustain their equipment. The military will have to find a way to extend the service life of its existing assets beyond traditional inefficient methods. While rust seems universal, each branch of the military encounters corrosion and rust in a unique way.
Due to high operational tempo, eliminating repetitive maintenance tasks for equipment is a significant concern. Naval equipment placed in lay-up status is subject to harsh conditions—rain and snow, dirt and dust and even UV rays. When a piece of shipboard equipment is not in use, it still requires a level of preservation to ensure it will be ready for redeployment. Topside weapons systems and navigation equipment requires ongoing preventative maintenance actions during port periods, which cuts into the time available for crew training. Ships need to be maintained in fully-ready condition at minimal cost. Military equipment must be covered to ensure that the equipment is constantly kept in a highest state of readiness. If covered by technology more advanced than a basic tarp, the equipment will be brought back into active service with significantly less time, effort and manpower to re-activate the equipment.
Back in 2006, the U.S. Navy was spending approximately $20,000 to overhaul a 25MM MK 38 MOD 1 Machine Gun System when they returned from a deployment. After the introduction of moisture-wicking, corrosion-inhibiting covers to protect the systems while on board the ship, the overhaul costs were reduced to an average of just $5,000 per system. Cost savings and return on investments like these, prompted the Navy to outfit every ship with a complete set of covers and made them a required and inspectable item onboard.
U.S. Army Ground Forces
The Army artillery has already recognized the benefits of waterproof, breathable covers with embedded corrosion inhibitors. Using unit funds only, commanders have chosen to cover over 1,000 of the Army’s artillery pieces, including M777s, M119s, Paladins and HIMARS Launchers.
The great challenge for the Army now is maintaining the almost 15,000 armored fighting vehicles – tanks and Bradleys–and more than 20,000 MRAPS in service. The bulk of these vehicles sit outside exposed to the elements–rain, wind, snow, freezes, thaws, dust and UV rays. Maintaining these expensive items in “ready for war” condition is a difficult task at any time. In the upcoming years the task becomes even more challenging. Aging M1 tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, MRAPs and ASVs will suffer even more from the effects of corrosion than they do now. Water intrusion causes unseen damage inside the chassis and hull and to the expensive and vital electronic/electrical systems.
The use of the high-tech covers described above not only reduces corrosion, but the waterproof, yet breathable material keeps water from getting inside these valuable vehicles. Covers can protect the engine, transmission, transfer case, drive shafts and axles, while also offering complete internal protection on electronic systems, lighting, instruments and control from UV damage and extreme thermal spiking.
U.S. Army Aviation
Whether on land or in the air, the U.S. Army needs to protect its equipment from the environment and corro