Philippe Odouard, Managing Director at Australia-based Quickstep, says: “The research to be conducted through this programme will help evaluate Quickstep’s patented composites manufacturing process and compare it to traditional manufacturing techniques for key fighter aircraft components.”
The research grant represents the second contract issued by the US Department of Defense (DOD) specifically focused on evaluating Quickstep’s patented composites manufacturing process for military aircraft. The contract is a second Phase I US DOD Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract awarded by the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Test panels for Phase I will be prepared by Vector and Quickstep, with the panels cured in the North American Quickstep Centre. An independent lab certified to supply data to the US Air Force will perform the physical and mechanical testing.
The final report on Phase I is due in late 2009. An optional component in the Phase I award may be exercised by the US Air Force to fabricate additional panels for further investigation. If Phase I is successful, a larger, multi-year Phase II contract may be awarded, in which components for the F-35 JSF will be fabricated, tested and qualified. The F-35 a supersonic stealth strike fighter capable of performing close air support, tactical bombing and air superiority missions.
Bismaleimide (BMI) resins are used in high performance structural composites that demand elevated temperature use and increased toughness. Vector Composites was awarded a contract in 2008 by the US Navy to evaluate production qualified epoxy prepreg resin systems, which was completed using the Quickstep curing technology.
Vector Composites of Dayton, Ohio, USA, is a subsidiary of DR Technologies specialising in the design and fabrication of engineered composite structures for the aerospace industry.