Merex has developed proprietary processes and techniques for cost-effective repair, refurbishment and upgrade of the wing skins on the global Northrop Grumman-built F-5 Freedom Fighter aircraft fleet.

The new US Patent Pending tooling, fixtures, accessories and engineering processes are designed to successfully address any degradation issue associated with the wing.

Merex project manager Chris Garville said, "The Merex Wing Fixture saves over four times the costs of a new wing and shortens the delivery time by a factor of five to one."

The company has signed a teaming agreement with Chilean aerospace company, Enaer, for sustainment of the national air force’s F5 supersonic fighter fleet.

Merex Marketing director Jorge Flores Blake said the company will incorporate leading edge technologies on the Chilean Air Force’s F-5 wing refurbishment programme.

Blake said, "We are using a laser tracker system to accurately locate and identify each fastener on the wing assembly, which is saving a significant amount of time and cost for the disassembly and reassembly processes.

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"The company will incorporate leading edge technologies on the Chilean Air Force’s F-5 wing refurbishment programme."

"In addition, we are using EDM (electronic discharge) technology to speed the removal of the rivets. Removal rates go from 2 minutes using a manual drill to under 15 seconds using the EDM solution."

All wing disassembly and reassembly work is scheduled to be performed at Enaer’s F-5 Work Cell in Santiago, Chile.

Marketed to all of Merex customers in more than 25 countries worldwide, the F-5 wing repair and refurbishment capability, along with the company’s other sustainment solutions are being displayed at the ongoing Feria Internacional Del Aire Y Del Espacio (FIDAE) air show in Santiago, Chile.

The international F-5 fleet has logged significant flight hours and several aircraft are claimed to require sustainment solutions to address the training and defence needs of the future.

Image: A Chilean Air Force F-5 fighter aircraft at 2008 FIDAE airshow in Chile. Photo: courtesy of Leopard123.

Defence Technology