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Fabric defense

Tents | November 1, 2014 | By: ,

Fabric shelter systems protect valuable aircraft, equipment
and military personnel in Afghanistan.

Durable fabric relocatable military buildings, temporary hangars, aircraft shelters, storage warehouses and sunshades are designed to be rapidly deployed and quickly constructed anywhere in the world. These engineered aluminum-framed structures are robust, reliable and field maintainable. They are designed to support defense requirements for military organizations in challenging environmental conditions. The structures are fully demountable and can be packed up and stored for future missions.

One such 20-meter structure was constructed at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, as part of Operation Herrick. Full end-opening, motorized doors, constructed using the same high-quality aluminum framework and PVC panels as the main structure, speed up aircraft deployment. The panels are hinged at the base of the hangar and the door operates via a motorized folding mechanism.

The efass range

The Expeditionary Forces Aircraft Shelter System (EFASS) 6082 T6 structural aluminum framework was designed to maximize strength, minimize weight and still be robust enough to withstand multiple erection procedures and engagement in challenging environments. The aluminum is anodized black, and steel components are galvanized to protect from corrosion.

The tensioned PVC membrane forms the protective barrier between the environment and the commodity inside. The PVC has been proven to last in excess of 30 years, depending upon use and location. The fabric has been tested with respect to tensile strength, elongation, tear strength, bursting strength, coating adhesion and resistance to flexing according to European standards. It is flame retardant and self-extinguishing to BS 5438 test 2B and BS7157.

“The durable fabric material lends itself very well to deployable hangar solutions,” says Ian Hindmoor, managing director at Rubb Buildings Ltd., a northeast SME (Small Medium Enterprise) that specializes in deployable fabric structures. “You would not be able to erect, dismantle, move, store and relocate any other hangar system in this way. It has been a proven success and the system of choice for the U.K. Ministry of Defense and U.S. forces for the last 10 years. The structures have evolved in terms of size, door technology and overhead crane technology, adapting to suit clients needs. It will continue to evolve to meet requirements in the future.”

The entire structure packs into one 20-foot ISO container, which weighs just 12,000 kg, and it can be constructed in 10 hours by a team of eight personnel. Multiple hangars featuring a variety of sizes and door configurations have been deployed to Kandahar Airfield and Camp Bastion to support the Ministry of Defense’s operations in Afghanistan.

The EFASS range of military buildings is available in three spans with various door options to accommodate fixed wing aircraft, rotary wing aircraft and land vehicle maintenance. Each structure is rated to withstand wind (Ve40 m per second) and snow loads (100kg per m²) to U.K. Defense standards. All of the structures pack into 20-foot ISO containers for transport. Customers of the structures include the U.K., U.S. and Canadian forces.

Rubb’s roof-mounted crane system for the EFASS system allows the facility to maintain vehicles and aircraft without the need of additional plant within the hangar. The aircraft hangar maintenance crane system is remote controlled and has various load capacities ranging from 1000 kg to 2000 kg. It features a double girder system with articulated suspension motorized bridge and hoist. This accessory was added on request from military personnel who required a lifting facility of sufficient capability to dismantle and rebuild a Chinook helicopter within an EFASS hangar in theatre.

C-130 aircraft maintenance

Rubb has also supplied its buildings for use at the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Cocoon Inc., North Hampton, N.H., first purchased a fixed-base maintenance hangar from Rubb to be installed at Bagram in 2009. Cocoon is the exclusive distributor of Rubb products to U.S. military projects directly managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The hangar was designed to accommodate maintenance activities for a C-130 aircraft, including support for suspended equipment, full internal fire protection systems, fuels maintenance systems and supporting utilities. It has a clear span width of 174 feet with a 153-foot wide by 46-foot high door.

Cocoon contacted Rubb again in 2013 to work on a second hangar with a clear span width of 160 feet and a 140-foot, 4-inch wide by 46-foot high door.

The structures are built to be permanent but can also be dismantled and relocated. The design was specified by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to comply with code and execute in a more efficient manner than traditional hangar construction. The second hangar features motorized doors and is able to withstand 20psf ground snow loads, 3 psf collateral loads and 12 psf roof live loads. Construction is underway and expected to be complete this month.

Built to withstand 90 mph wind gusts, both buildings were constructed using Serge Ferrari 932S, a 28-ounce weldable, polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) coated polyester. The fabric was chosen for its proven durability in the climate and conditions of the Middle East and will not propagate flame or sustain combustion when exposed to a severe fire.

According to Ray Gaffey, vice president of operations at Cocoon, Rubb and Cocoon are seeing inroads and acceptance of traditional Rubb membrane clad post hot-dipped galvanized steel structure technology for use in more long term U.S. military warehousing and hangar applications such as these. The polyester membrane cladding is tensioned over a steel frame structure, providing more stability than traditional exterior-clad building systems. The steel is hot-dip galvanized after the welding process to provide corrosion protection.

Clare Wilson is marketing manager at RUBB Buildings Ltd., Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, U.K.
Holly Eamon is assistant editor for the Review.

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