HomeNewsArticle Display

Handheld imaging tool expands aircraft inspection capability

An operator demonstrates the portability of the handheld imaging tool. The technology provides maintainers the ability to evaluate aircraft in the field to ensure mission readiness. (Courtesy photo/Sensor Concepts Inc.)

An operator demonstrates the portability of the handheld imaging tool. The technology provides maintainers the ability to evaluate aircraft in the field to ensure mission readiness. (Courtesy photo/Sensor Concepts Inc.)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE (AFNS) -- When pilots climb into the cockpit they expect their aircraft to perform as expected, regardless if take off is from a home or deployed location; but ensuring that the aircraft is healthy enough to fly has become a challenge for the Air Force.

Currently, the Air Force employs a large piece of support equipment to inspect the outer surface of an advanced aircraft to verify its health. The current technology weighs over 1,200 pounds, which creates the need for a more logistic-friendly equipment designed for field use.

In response, the Air Force Research Laboratory, through a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract managed as an Advanced Technology Demonstration Program, developed a first of its kind handheld imaging tool (HIT) that provides the Air Force with a portable, nondestructive method to inspect and verify aircraft health. The HIT consists of a handheld unit weighing less than 7 pounds attached to an 11-pound backpack that can image 100 percent of an aircraft's surface.

The HIT collects a larger amount of data with equal or better quality than the current baseline support equipment. For example, in one particular zone configuration, the HIT is able to image the entire zone within 15 minutes with one maintenance operator. The current equipment requires two operators and takes nearly three hours to accomplish the same task.

An on-aircraft test and demonstration at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in late 2014, led to the culmination of the five-year research and development effort.

Joel Greenleaf, senior logistics subject matter expert for the F-35 Lightning II, said this is the most successful SBIR project he has been involved with in over 24 years.

"The AFRL team's unyielding cooperation ensures this premier expeditionary imaging capability didn't languish two or more years awaiting the standard requirements identification-to-contract execution that we frequently encounter,” he said. “I estimate AFRL's efforts will provide the F-35 warfighter with the HIT at a minimum of three years sooner than we expected."

As a testament to the final demonstration's success, the F-35 Joint Program Office requested that AFRL manage a low-rate initial production effort to harden, meet support equipment requirements, and produce the first six HIT systems.

The AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate develops materials, processes, and manufacturing improvements that enable advancements in Air Force technology. It also provides unique technical expertise critical to sustaining the current aircraft fleet.

Engage

Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: Battling #COVID; a cyber Airman’s story - https://t.co/HsJv6J7r2A #ReserveReady #ReserveResilient #ReadyAF https://t.co/y7…
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: #ReserveCitizenAirman makes life-saving decision - https://t.co/ZPviQZRrEX (Story by the @307BombWing) #ReserveReady #Rese
Twitter
The Impact of Sharing Stories of Recovery and Resiliency Lt Col Katharine McGregor did not know much about the… https://t.co/17VibuxnTc
Twitter
Many search for years to find their true passion in life. For Staff Sgt. Camrin Northrop, a firefighter for both th… https://t.co/QcNrBXPCV0
Twitter
From their homes to yours, check out the @AirNatlGuard Band of the South! #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/yb7GhZZ5A3
Twitter
Reintegration will be a deliberate & phased approach to protect Airmen & Space Professionals. Learn to maintain rea… https://t.co/egQSAV5uRB
Twitter
The MQ-1B Predator is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft used for i… https://t.co/livZYQyXnH
Twitter
Dr. Quinton Sasnett, a faculty member at Air University, talks about the university's civilian associates degree pr… https://t.co/0BgoCiGCUy
Twitter
Improving mental health through expressive writing. @KadenaAirBase https://t.co/zVoYTQQl5z
Twitter
Medical pros at Kadena Air Base, 3-D printed naso-pharyngeal swabs to test potential #COVID19 patients. The dental… https://t.co/h8q1HgLjRZ
Twitter
The MC-12W is a medium-to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Its primary mission is providing intelligen… https://t.co/st7WRJLDHB
Twitter
Know what resources, treatments & therapies are available for invisible wounds. https://t.co/H2A7fYb8s3
Twitter
“The Total Force team at Eielson plays a pivotal role that extends throughout Alaska and projects into the Arctic.”… https://t.co/7nSYEtYWHj
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: 🙌🎉 Congrats to the @usairforce's newest pilots as Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-18 graduates today at @…
Twitter
.@JointBasePHH Airmen participate in a ramp drop from a C-17 Globemaster III. The 25th Air Support Ops Squadron is… https://t.co/AZVT6Qzmgv
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: It is a pleasure to be in #Alaska to see #Airmen and #SpaceProfessionals in action! Whether it’s F-35s & F-22s protectin…
Twitter
RT @EielsonAirForce: When @SecAFOfficial comes to visit, we show off the 'cool stuff' https://t.co/sGCSnVOOXg
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: A career worth a thousand words: Colonel Campbell reflects on career in aviation - https://t.co/atNAeYOoMI (Story by @Dobb
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,252,537
Follow Us