In a case of high tech "he said, she said", the Marines and V-22 Osprey window provider, PPG Aerospace, appear to be at odds over what's behind a premature hazing of the tiltrotor's $80,000 windscreens.
Hazing, which leaves an increasingly milky appearance on windscreens over time, is caused by fine micro-scratching of the windscreen by sand and dust caught in the rotor downwash, says Connie Poulsen, PPG global director for military transparencies.
The Navy appears to beg to differ.
In a justification for sole source procurement recently published in the Federal Business Opportunities site, the Navy’s second marine logistics group announced it would procure 4,500 of what it calls V-22 Windscreen Cleaning Wipes from PPG for testing on the Marines' V-22 fleet.
In the paperwork, the Navy says “common commercially available cleaning products” with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and water have been “proven to damage” the V-22 windscreens. “The windscreen replacement cost per aircraft is $80,000; therefore, preserving and prolonging the life of each windscreen is in the best interest of the fleet,” the justification continues.
The service has a budget line item this year to study coatings/redesign to help with windscreen cracking and hazing, so the issue is not new. To what extent it is a safety problem is unclear.
PPG says hazing is going to happen regardless of the cleaner, it's just that IPA doesn't help to slow the process.
According to Poulsen, the secret sauce in the V-22 Windscreen Cleaning Wipes came about because PPG had internally taken on a project to help the Marines have an easier job of cleaning heat- and air-dried smashed bugs from the windscreens.
Along with making the bashed bugs easier to remove, the cleaner also appeared to slow down the hazing process.
“What we found is that IPA and water over time does not improve that haze,” says Poulsen. “We think [the new cleaner] might help improve life a little bit, based on lab testing.”
Despite where the idea came from, the Marines are now evaluating the cleaner, which comes in pre-packaged wipes that are approximately 1 sq. ft. in size.