ERJ staff report (LMH)
Redditch, UK -- GKN Aerospace has been awarded a Â£2 million (euro 2.4 million), five year contract with the UK Ministry of Defence for its latest Mark 5 air portable fuel containers (APFCs).
The APFCs are essentially huge bullet-proof balls, which are being used to transport fuel to inaccessible points such as forward airstrips and helicopter landing zones. The balls are traditionally made from rubber, but GKC Aerospace has developed a polyurethane material to replace this.
The balls are dropped from the air, and can be towed under a helicopter for ten miles. Deliveries are underway and these balls are now in service in Afghanistan.
These latest fuel containers are 25 percent lower in weight and 30 percent lower in cost than previous generations of APFC, GKC said in a 9 Jan news release.
The company said this is due to the introduction of an innovative new manufacturing process, developed by GKN Aerospace, which replaces the established slow and solvent-heavy, rubber-based production with a process which sprays a polyurethane compound paint onto nylon wire.
This new process is much faster, lower cost and is virtually VOC (volatile organic compound) free, so far more environmentally friendly, according to the company.
The APFCs are extremely rugged: able to function effectively at temperatures as low as minus 26 degrees Celsius and as high as plus 71 degrees Celsius - and will survive down to minus 46 degrees Celsius.
The containers are para-droppable, towable for ten miles and aerodynamically designed to offer optimum flight conditions when under-slung on a helicopter. They are qualified for us in cargo aircraft such as the A400M and C-130.
â€œIn modern operations, the availability of fuel to vital forward activities extends the period of operation of helicopters, aircraft and ground units. It also ensures there is power, heat and communications for military personnel in the field,â€ commented Phil Swash, CEO, GKN Aerospace, Europe and Special Products. Our new containers will extend the distance it is possible to transport fuel to reach these points, at a reduced cost to our customer.â€
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Press release from GKN Aerospace