The Air Force Corrosion Prevention and Control Office at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia employs only 17 people, but its small staff plays a big role in keeping aircraft and ground equipment operating throughout the Air Force.
The specialists in the office, which is a unit of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, serve as the corrosion control experts for the entire Air Force. Their job is to find ways to keep planes and ground equipment in service longer by fending off rust and numerous other elements that can cause structures to corrode.
Air Force officials spend $1.5 billion annually on corrosion-related maintenance.
“The cost of corrosion is going up because the fleet is aging,” says Carl Perazzola, the deputy director of the corrosion office. “There is tremendous advocacy out of the Pentagon to really start to increase our role in all of these areas.”
The office staff has the authority to issue technical orders to maintainers throughout the Air Force for new procedures aimed at corrosion prevention.
Sometimes the recommendations are complex, such as new types of paint and methods of paint application, but often the recommendations are simple, such as washing down planes more frequently.
Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Allison, one of the active-duty personnel in the office, says that even a simple spray down of equipment with water can make a big difference in corrosion prevention, especially those planes that have served in Iraq or other desert locations where sand lodges in crevices.
Chief Allison says the unit’s mission is not just targeted to older planes and equipment. The office is increasingly involved in the design and development of new assets, because the wrong combinations of metals and paints can lead to problems down the road.
“They want us to concentrate on the upfront part of the life cycle of a piece of equipment,” he says. “Mainly the acquisition phase, so that we can build in some robust corrosion prevention during manufacture and design, and we are not having to take two or three steps backward once a piece of equipment is five or six years old.”
The office used to have a lab in its building at Robins, but now any lab work or experimenting it needs is turned over to either a private laboratory or the Coatings Technologies Integration Office at Wright-Patterson AFB.n
Information supplied by the 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office.