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Advanced Sensing Equipment Offers Huge Savings to Military Budgets

18 Jun 2007 | Ref. 184/2007

Farnborough, United Kingdom. - Advanced corrosion sensing technology that could save billions in military budgets is being developed by BAE Systems. The ‘Sentinel’ corrosion sensor is currently being tested on the F35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme.

The Sentinel alerts engineers to deterioration in the paintwork of miltary vehicles – one of the first signs of degradation – allowing preventative measures to be implemented.

The ‘Through Life Capability Management’ policy, central to the UK MoD’s Defence Industrial Strategy, provided the impetus for the development of sensing equipment to promote a ‘predict and prevent’ mentality rather than a ‘find and fix’ solution.

Currently all military vehicles - including aircraft, ships and land vehicles - are built using a combination of chemical treatments and paint to protect them from corrosion. Due to the barrage of environmental elements they are exposed to over land, sea and air, and the extended service life of many platforms, and the extended service life of many platforms, the cost for maintaining military hardware has spiralled. The Sentinel works by monitoring the breakdown of that protection using custom electrical sensors and giving advance warning that corrosion could start soon. Preventative action can then be taken at the earliest opportunity.

Dr Steve Harris, corrosion specialist at BAE Systems, explains the process: “Corrosion costs the US armed forces alone an estimated $40 billion a year to fix. Our sensor is designed to simulate the part of the vehicle being monitored. We mimic the structure itself using thin layers of alloy and use the same protective coating. The sensor then has all the same ingredients as the part of the structure it is monitoring and will face all the same conditions.”

The simplicity of the technology and its economic advantages were major factors behind its selection for use during the F-35 aircraft’s System Design and Development (SDD) phase. Should the Sentinel testing prove successful it could well become an integral component in the F-35’s health monitoring system for decades to come. The aircraft is due to enter service in 2012.

About BAE Systems
BAE Systems is a global defence and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, information technology solutions and customer support services. With 88,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded £13.7 billion pounds sterling (US25.4 billion dollars) in 2006.

For more information please contact:
John Neilson, BAE Systems
Tel: + 44 (0) 1252 384795 Mob: + 44 (0)7802 337704

David Morris, Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7467 9232 Mob: +44 (0) 7957 200 458

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