GKN Aerospace has cut a quarter off the weight of containers used to fly fuel to military units in remote parts of Afghanistan thanks to an innovative manufacturing process that is also significantly cheaper.
The company has won a £2m, five-year contract with the UK Ministry of Defence for its latest Mark 5 Air Portable Fuel Containers (APFCs). These are being used to transport fuel to inaccessible points such as forward airstrips and forward operational areas.
GKN developed the manufacturing technique itself, replacing the established slow and solvent-heavy, rubber-based production at its Portsmouth plant with polyurethane compound paint sprayed onto nylon wire. This is much faster, costs less and is virtually VOC (volatile organic compound) free, so far more environmentally friendly.
Containers made this way are 25 per cent lighter and cost 30 per cent less than past generations. The Mk5 APFCs are para-droppable, towable for more than 15km and aerodynamically designed to offer optimum flight conditions when under-slung on a helicopter. They are qualified for use in cargo aircraft such as the A400M and C-130 and are designed to function at temperatures from -26°C to +71°C.
Phil Swash, CEO, GKN Aerospace, Europe and Special Products, said: “In modern operations, the availability of fuel to vital forward activities extends the operation of helicopters, aircraft and ground units. It also ensures there is power, heat and communications for personnel in the field. Our new containers will extend the distance it is possible to transport fuel to these points, at a reduced cost to our customer.”