One of the biggest banes for the U.S. Navy’s aviation assets is also completely unavoidable: corrosion. Even landlubbing civvies can understand the deleterious effects of corrosion when they see their car’s undercarriage beginning to disintegrate from the rust caused by the synergistic effect salt has on the three basic components needed for rust to occur: air, water, and steel. For the Aviation Support Equipment Technician (AS), rust is a constant enemy.

In 2014, it was estimated that nearly a third of all Navy and Marine Corps maintenance time was related in some way to corrosion, with $3 billion in outlays for painting ships and submarines. All told, the Navy says it spends 25 percent of its maintenance budget dealing with rust and corrosion-related damage and prevention.

The problems of corrosion faced by the Aviation Support Equipment Technician are significant because the equipment which they maintain—forklifts, aircraft-towing vehicles, mobile power supplies, and more—often spends more time exposed to the elements than individual aircraft. A towing vehicle, for instance, might be on a flight deck all day positioning planes, compared to a single plane being launched, recovered, and then stowed in a below-decks hangar away from the harmful sea air and spray. And a piece of support equipment out of service due to malfunctions caused by corrosion has the potential to ground aircraft just the same as if the aircraft itself suffered from corrosion.

Consequently, Aviation Support Equipment Technicians are tasked with identifying types of corrosion, their causes, and determining the appropriate treatment. More importantly, they carry out the preservation procedures that keep the need for remedial treatment at a minimum—and support equipment up and running.


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