The full repair and return to service of an Arrester Hook from an F/A-18 Hornet belonging to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) proved these capabilities. The Department of Defence (Defence) has invested substantially into developing the in-country LAD repair capability, RUAG’s most recent effort for rectifying the effects that impact, wear and corrosion have on Defence equipment.
LAD is an Additive Material Technology (AMT) which rebuilds damaged metal surfaces. A high power laser beam creates a melt pool in the surface. Metal particles are injected into the melt pool, and fuse with the surface as the surface cools and solidifies. Overlapping passes build a 3D deposition structure which can then be machined to the required shape. LAD is applicable to the repair of high strength metal components and structures.
As part of the LAD technology validation, in a real component repair situation, RUAG successfully repaired a high strength steel Arrester Hook from a RAAF F/A-18 Hornet. The hook had been previously identified as worn ‘beyond safe limits’, due to operational activities. LAD technology restored the hook and ensured it met operational and design requirements. At the same time, the full repair significantly improved the component’s return-to-service time, as compared with the typical replacement options.
Neil Matthews, Senior Manager for Advanced Technologies and Engineering Services, RUAG Australia, states, “Additive Material Technologies such as LAD are now critical to sustaining Defence’s equipment in the air, land and sea environments.” He points out further, “The long-term cost reductions are significant as the reliable repair of components lowers the overhead attributed to logistics and inventory.”
As Khan Sharp, Research Leader for Aerospace Materials Technologies, Defence Science & Technology Group (DSTG), speaking on behalf of Defence explains, “To date, the Australian Department of Defence and RUAG have recovered more than six million dollars of Defence equipment using additive material technologies.” He continues, “Reliability and repeatability are the keys to fully leveraging AMT such as RUAG’s Laser Assisted Deposition and Supersonic Particle Deposition repair and recover capabilities. Adding AMT to repair capabilities is essential in view of the advanced materials and innovative manufacturing techniques used in building RAAF’s Joint Strike Fighter, for example.”
Defence and RUAG have a long history of researching AMT, with RUAG now having 15 years of experience in the development and application of additive material repair technologies. Collaboration between Defence, industry and research organizations continues to be an Australian strength. “Defence and RUAG recognize the important contributions made by the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, Defence Aviation Safety Authority, Defence Science & Technology Group, Defence Material Technology Centre, Monash University, Swinburne University, and RMIT University,” remarks Khan Sharp.
RUAG Australia is a major industry research centre for the development and application of Powder Deposition Technologies focusing on both Supersonic Particle Deposition (SPD), sometimes referred to as Cold Spray, and LAD for defense applications. These technologies offer a number of exciting and cost-effective outcomes, particularly in the areas of geometry restoration and corrosion protection. In addition, these technologies enable the restoration of corroded / damaged metallic components / structures to an acceptable level of structural integrity and functionality. RUAG Australia maintains and operates a fixed and mobile SPD capability as well as a fixed LAD capability. RUAG Australia is a DASA Part 145, DASA Part 21J, EASA Part 145, CASA Part 145 and AS9100D approved organisation.
RUAG MRO International is an independent supplier, support provider and integrator of systems and components for civil and military aviation worldwide. It also develops and supports simulation and training systems and solutions for international trained security forces.
Highly specialized in the support of aircraft and helicopters throughout their entire life cycle, the company includes maintenance, repair and overhaul services, upgrades, and the development, manufacture and integration of subsystems and components in their service portfolio.
In addition, as the manufacturer (OEM) of the Dornier 228, a versatile aircraft for special missions as well as passenger and cargo operations, RUAG focuses on customer support solutions, including OEM services.
Moreover, RUAG MRO International is a leading developer, OEM and system support provider for state-of-the-art simulation and training systems technology for live, virtual and constructive (LVC) training. Complex and flexible functions, and a holistic approach, support realistic training scenarios, adapted to mission goals, at individual, team and unit instruction levels.