You’ve probably seen plenty of Army vehicles on the road. They might be standard olive drab, or possibly a desert camouflage pattern. However they’re painted, the basic material for the coating is called CARC, Chemical Agent Resistant Coating.
“Our Nato customers, our allies, they are all using this. This paint is in theater,” said Pam Clark from Huntsville’s CFI Military Solutions. She is not talking about CARC.
Pam is talking about “Intermat Stealth, Anti-Thermal Spraying Coating”. It’s a paint CFI was showing off in its booth at the recent Space and Missile Defense Symposium.
“We have a paint that covers their IR signature,” said Pam. IR stands for infra-red. You can think of it as the heat signature. Obviously, if a vehicle has a less detectable heat signature it would be less visible to a sensor that homes in on heat. The kind of sensors that might be on an enemy drone, or a heat-seeking missile.
“We’re defending the people who are inside the buildings or inside the Humvee. We’re defending their lives. If they can’t be seen, and they can’t be sought out by missiles, they can’t be hurt,” said Pam.
There’s a photo from CFI that shows three vehicles. One is mostly painted with Intermat, and it’s far less visible than a similar vehicle painted with CARC. A third vehicle is entirely painted with Intermat and its heat signature is significantly harder to detect than the other two vehicles. CFI is in the process of doing testing, and that’s where another benefit of their paint became obvious.
“We have data that backs it up now on the Stryker (vehicle) that we had down here. It will keep the inside cooler too,” said Pam Gardner.
She believes the testing will prove the worth of the paint for the U.S. Military, and as Pam has already said, it’s being used by NATO allies. Something that lessens the heat signature would save lives. If it keeps a vehicle cooler it would protect sensitive instruments, which could also be a lifesaver.
Read more: New Paint Helps Protect Warfighters
The Yermo Annex Marine Corps. Logistics Base in California and the Corpus Christi Army Depot Aviation Center in Texas have acquired new systems to help train and enhance employees’ painting abilities.
The bases obtained a Spray Technique Analysis and Research for Defense (STAR4D) training program from the University of Northern Iowa, a virtual training that the military says improves quality while reducing time, materials and toxic exposures.
The military branches are using the systems in training to apply chemical agent resistant coatings (CARC) required on all combat, combat support and combat service support equipment. CARC is a polyurethane paint that provides superior durability, extends service life for military vehicles and equipment, provides surfaces with superior resistance to chemical warfare agent penetration, and greatly simplifies the process of decontaminating equipment when necessary.
Mike Jackson, supervisor at the Yermo Annex Marine Corps Logistics Base, says the STAR4D improved transfer efficiency.
“It is hands-on training allowing workers to judge their distance and thickness of spray, and allow them to develop speed without the waste of using a booth,” Jackson says. “It prepares workers, giving them an idea of what is to be expected and develop a rhythm.”
The military says that currently the maintenance centers in Barstow, Calif., and Albany, Ga., are experiencing a 40 percent transfer improvement efficiency with a 20 percent projected cost saving. That equates to an average savings of 60 gal of paint per year for every 300 gal used, or about $200,000 in savings.
“We have the ability to train our employees without having to worry about the amount of paint we are using, or any air pollution that we would have to worry about from constantly using the painting booth,” Jackson says. “The system is constantly getting better, and the more it does, the better we can train our employees and also save money on things such as paint. Along with saving the time that we would be using the booth for training, we can now use it for pushing more products off the line.”