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NEWS | June 18, 2018

1MXS Airmen innovation keeps F-22 battle ready

By Senior Airman Tristan Biese 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 1st Maintenance Squadron’s low observable flight know stealth. They are responsible for the stealth coating, known as LO, on the exterior of the F-22 Raptor.

If an aircraft’s LO needs repairs, the LO flight fixes it by repainting the affected area in one of their spray booths and send the aircraft on its way. 

Thanks to the innovation of the LO Airmen partnered with the 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron and 633rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron, they found a remedy to make small and quick repairs on more aircraft.

Today’s Air Force must remain the world’s preeminent air and space fighting force – to do so requires rapid and meaningful innovation and investments that will allow the Air Force to retain a position of American strength well into the future.

According to U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Erik Kalkbrenner, 1st MXS fabrication flight commander, the Airmen at LO came together with 633rd CES and 633rd AMDS to plan and construct a portable spray booth to improve productivity.

 “We can (now) find the damage today and be able to start working on it tonight or tomorrow,” said Master Sgt. Alexander Gonzalez, 1st MXS LO section chief. “This decreases the downtime of our aircraft and at the same time increases the capabilities of the pilots to fly.”

The portable spray booth is made of PVC pipe and plastic connected to a filtration system called “Tent & Vent.”

The system creates a vacuum that pulls all the paint in the booth’s air out and filtrates it, protecting the individuals spraying from exposure to the paint’s chemicals.

“It can be used in any location. For example, we have used it to spray an aircraft in the desert while I was deployed,” said Gonzalez. “This gave us the ability to spray and have the aircraft ready for the fight.”

The booth can be constructed in a day, to various sizes, saving time for the unit. The intent of the booth is to not paint the entire aircraft, but to spray pieces and make small repairs; freeing up larger booths to repair entire aircraft or larger parts faster.

Joint Base Langley-Eustis Airmen’s innovative ideas, such as the Tent & Vent, ensure that the 1st Fighter Wing is ready to deliver airpower, anytime and anyplace.