ANN ARBOR, Mich. 8 May, 2012. The U.S. Air Force is investing in a quality control system for the stealth coating on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft by exercising a $1.5 million option on a SBIR Phase II contract. The option funds the development and field deployment of a prototype terahertz (THz) non-contact quality control system by Advanced Photonix, Inc. (NYSE Amex: API), a supplier of optoelectronic products.
During this phase a prototype handheld scanner/transceiver will be used as an attachment to the existing T-Ray 4000 platform. The system will measure the step and gap dimensions hidden under the surface of the stealth coatings utilized on a F-35 aircraft. The system is non-contact, so it does not require surface preparation, and has over one thousandth of an inch precision.
Terahertz radiation can be used to image through materials yielding high spatial resolution and has the ability to resolve both time and amplitude information. It is safe for humans and can provide spectroscopic information, as well as produce images.
The T-Ray 4000 features interchangeable fiber-coupled heads that deliver a picosecond duration TD-THz pulse that allows high-speed scanned images to be produced.
Completion of the current contract will lead to Phase III, where systems will be deployed in production at Lockheed Martin's facility and repair depots around the world. The system can also can be used on other military visually obscured fit sensitive applications.