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API secures $1.5 million funding for F-35 aircraft quality control

The innovator of III-V compound semiconductor APD and PIN photodiode technology says the success of this contract will allow API to penetrate many applications in both military and industrial markets

Advanced Photonix, Inc (API) has been awarded a follow on 21 month contract from the Air Force for $1.5 million to provide terahertz process control instrumentation.

The contract will support production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).





F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

The contract is a commercialisation pilot program (CPP) award to optimise the quality of specialty stealth coatings applied by Northrop Grumman to a sub-system on the F-35. The purpose of the CPP is to accelerate the transition of Small Business Innovation Research funded technologies to Phase III production and deployment purchases by the DoD.

Previous Phase I and II contracts demonstrated feasibility in the lab and in Northrop Grumman’s facility. This contract funds further application and system development culminating in delivering two production units for deployment on the manufacturing floor by the end of 2013.

Once completed, the system will consist of the T-Ray 4000 control unit which is connected to a miniature terahertz transceiver via a flexible umbilical up to 100 metres in length mounted onto an existing robot arm within a paint booth. The fibre-optic coupled terahertz (THz) technology employed is well suited to the application, as the sensors are small, light weight and freely positionable. A hand-held version that would allow measurement on cured coatings without the robot is also planned.

The proposed system and software will not only be able to function as a real-time sensor for applying the sprayed-on stealth coating on the F-35 for the Air Force, but also other coatings of interest to the Army and Navy. The sensors could also be applicable for monitoring and inspecting coatings and paints applied in industrial settings, such as automobile manufacturing.

“Demonstrating the capability of our equipment in a paint booth shows just how robust our terahertz system has become,” states Richard (Rick) Kurtz, Chairman and CEO of API. “The success of this contract will allow us to penetrate many applications in both military and industrial markets providing significant long term growth for our T-Ray product line.”
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