Aircraft lifespans are extending longer than originally planned, creating unique challenges for aircraft operators. Parker Aerospace has developed new solutions to improve aging aircraft equipment. The primary flight control actuators on today’s F-16 Fighting Falcon were initially designed in the 1970s. However, Parker’s upgrade kits are decreasing required maintenance, improving reliability, and lowering the life-cycle cost for F-16 aircraft.
In today’s aerospace industry, many aircraft are flying for decades without being retired. This is especially true in the world of defense.
Military aircraft live long, productive lives, working thousands of hours for the US armed services. But as our technology evolves, Parker Aerospace looks for opportunities to improve aging military aircraft equipment, replacing and enhancing it with new and improved hardware.
This is a win-win situation. The US Air Force and its allies are able to improve equipment reliability, while lowering their life-cycle cost and preserving budget for additional modernization. Companies like Parker grow their business and stay connected to their product over the complete program life cycle.
A very good example of this is the F-16 flight control actuation retrofit. The Defense Logistics Agency has awarded our customer support organization a multi-million dollar contract to provide flight control actuator upgrade kits for the F-16 Fighting Falcon fleet.
The integrated servo actuators are a key part of the F-16 hydraulic fly-by-wire flight control actuation system. Five Parker actuators per aircraft controlling the flaperon, rudder, and stabilators provide the F-16’s primary flight control surfaces.
The flight control actuators on today’s Fighting Falcon were initially designed in the 1970s and projected to fly 2,000 hours without failure. Over the years, the actuators’ mean time between removal has been declining. Parker and the Air Force designed a way to find a way to enhance the actuators’ reliability and keep the aircraft flying longer.
The team came up with a technology insertion kit that will dramatically improve the performance of the aging actuators. Using new technology, the flight control actuators significantly improved the target set for time between checks and met all the government and Parker reliability and maintainability requirements. The retrofit improvement is decreasing required maintenance and therefore increasing the availability of the aircraft to the warfighter.
Parker is now delivering actuator upgrade kits to the US Air Force at Hill Air Force Base, where they are being installed in the F-16 fleet. The retrofit of the worldwide fleet of some 3,000 F-16s, including those flown by foreign air forces, will take approximately 12 years.
We are proud to help improve the F-16, making it more reliable, efficient, and cost effective. This is a benefit to our nation’s armed forces and global defense effort – and an excellent way to grow business for Parker Aerospace while supporting our valuable customer, the Air Force.
Article contributed by Ed Feick, group vice president of business development & global support (top) and Mark Czaja, group vice president of technology and innovation
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