Advanced Photonix, Inc. ® (NYSE Amex: API), today announces that the Air Force has exercised its option for additional work on a SBIR Phase II contract. The 12 month contract option totals $1.5M and funds the development and field deployment of a prototype terahertz (THz) non-contact quality control system that will be utilized to ensure the proper fit of the stealth coated exterior surfaces of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft.
During this option phase a prototype handheld scanner (transceiver) will be optimized and used as an attachment to the existing T-Ray 4000 ® platform. The system will measure the step and gap dimensions hidden under the surface of the stealth coatings utilized on a full-scale F-35 aircraft. The system is non-contact, requires no surface preparation, and has better than one thousandth of an inch precision. When deployed it will significantly improve manufacturing efficiency and reduce costs of the expensive process of installing the stealth coated doors and panels on the F-35.
Successful completion of the current contract will lead to Phase III, where systems will be deployed in production at Lockheed Martin’s facility and subsequently deployed at repair depots around the world. The system can be utilized on the F-35 for the Air Force, and also can be used on other military visually obscured fit sensitive applications. In addition to military applications, the system could be applicable for monitoring and inspecting coating thickness, subsurface inspection, surface topography measurements and coating cure states in industrial settings.
“The continued support from the Air Force and collaboration with Lockheed Martin is enabling us to develop a handheld terahertz transceiver that can help significantly cost reduce the difficult manufacturing process of ensuring the F-35 stealth capability when fully deployed, stated Robin Risser, COO of API. “The adoption of our terahertz quality control system by the JSF program represents a significant opportunity for our terahertz platform as F-35 production ramps from the current three planes per month to the planned 30 per month by 2017. In addition to military applications, this technology can be utilized in industrial quality control applications.”