F-16 jets flown by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are being painted with a smooth, fast-drying primer and high-gloss, lightweight, advanced-performance coating (APC) topcoat by PPG Industries’ aerospace business.
Desoprime HS CA7233 epoxy primer and Desothane HS CA9800 polyurethane APC topcoat by PPG Aerospace – PRC-DeSoto will improve durability of the familiar red, white and blue colors of the jets flown by the air demonstration squadron, according to Duane Utter, PPG global segment manager, military coatings and classified products.
Utter said the smooth application properties of the epoxy primer leave the surface ready for the topcoat without sanding or other preparatory work. “The combination of primer and topcoat gives a long-lasting, high-quality gloss finish with exceptional image definition,” he said. “This Desothane APC topcoat has superior weathering resistance and cleanability that retain gloss and color far longer than previous coatings systems, extending the time before repainting is needed.”
Both products offer application benefits, Utter said. “The Desoprime primer dries faster than traditional high-solids primers to enable faster repainting, while the Desothane APC topcoat can be tailored at the factory to dry in as few as two hours or as many as 15 hours to meet application requirements.”
Compared with an earlier version of gloss topcoat, Desothane HS CA9800 APC topcoat achieves up to a 5% weight savings because of its lower density. “This is significant because the weight reduction enhances fuel efficiency so aircraft can fly farther between refuelings,” Utter said.
Both PRC-DeSoto high-solids, low-VOC (volatile organic compound) APC topcoat and primer are qualified by the U.S. Navy for military application. Desothane HS CA9800 APC topcoat meets requirements of MIL-PRF-85285D, and Desoprime HS CA7233 primer is qualified to MIL-PRF-23377J.
Supplying coatings for the U.S. Air Force jets involves cooperation between PPG’s Seattle Application Support Center (ASC), which mixes and packages the coatings for delivery to Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, where the jets are painted, and its Phoenix aerospace products sales office, which supplies coatings to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., near Las Vegas, where the Thunderbirds are based. “The PPG aerospace teams at our Seattle ASC and in Phoenix are doing a great job coordinating the effort to make sure the Air Force has the service and support it needs,” Utter said.
By fall, PPG coatings are to be applied to 11 Block-52 F-16 jets being delivered to the Thunderbirds at Nellis Air Force Base. The air squadron team is transitioning to the newer, faster version of the F-16 in 2008, and the first all-Block-52 F-16 demonstration will take place in 2009. The U.S. Air Force also uses the Desothane APC topcoat at Hill Air Force Base to repaint F-16s and C-130 military transport aircraft used in combat.