ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, MD - The Army is using a new coating system to paint aircraft and other equipment that performs better than the standard system and is safer to human health and the environment. This breakthrough comes after two years of research and testing conducted by the Connecticut Army National Guard at its 1109th Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot (AVCRAD) on trivalent chromium-based primers and sealers.

The dense, protective coatings created with chromium are especially important to the Army, which needs to cover its equipment with paint that can resist corrosive chemical agents. However, chromium in its hexavalent form is a known carcinogen. Although the Army has used chromium-6-based paint safely to protect and extend the life of its equipment, it was open to trying something else that wasn’t so potentially harmful both to human health and the environment.
Willingness to find a new paint system turned to resolve in 2006 when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released more stringent regulations for permissible exposure limits of chromium-6. That’s when the Connecticut Army National Guard’s 1109 th AVCRAD, which plays a major role in aircraft maintenance for the Army, decided that finding a green alternative to the standard chromium-6 paint system was better than upgrading its air filters to meet the new requirements.
The maintenance team at the 1109th AVCRAD initiated a rigorous hunt for a suitable replacement. What they found was a water-based chemical-agent-resistant coating system that uses chromium-3 instead of chromium-6. The new system exceeds the performance of the old system; it leaves a smoother finish coating and is more resistant to fading and chalking, which minimizes the need for cosmetic painting procedures.

Partnering with the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, the 1109th AVCRAD initiated and now manages the effort to promote use of the new paint system in both military and private organizations.