The US Air Force’s (USAF) 58th Special Operations Wing is planning to use a biodegradable binding material at practice landing zones to limit damage caused to CV-22 Osprey engines during training missions.
TerraLOC binds together the dirt in a landing zone to ensure that it does not stir up when a CV-22 Osprey lands.
58th Operations Group commander colonel Dwight Davis said: "Any dust mitigation extends the life of the engine and the prop-rotors.
"Starting at about 50ft or 60ft, it is like having two Category 5 hurricanes coming down."
Enriched with abrasive minerals, including quartz and pumice, New Mexico dirt causes more damage to Osprey engines and prop-rotors than the dirt and sand present in places such as Afghanistan.
58th Operations Support Squadron commander lieutenant colonel Christina Willard said a CV-22 engine replacement costs approximately $1.2m. The application of TerraLOC costs $70,000 for the initial treatment and less for subsequent applications, lowering both cost and maintenance time.
The binding material is expected to save the 58th SOW nine engine replacements a year and should be reapplied every six to eight months to ensure its effectiveness.
TerraLOC use was approved after a joint one-year trial with the Bureau of Land Management, which owns the land the USAF uses as practice drop zones.
The material will initially be used at two drop zones, with plans to add more in the future.
Davis added: "One of the main reasons we went with TerraLOC is that, once we are no longer using a landing zone, (the land) goes back to the way it was before."
The CV-22 Osprey is powered by two Rolls-Royce AE 1107 new-generation 6,000shp-class turboshaft engines and is used to conduct long-range infiltration, exfiltration and resupply missions for special operations forces.
Image: The New Mexico dirt causes damage to CV-22 Osprey engines and prop-rotors. Photo: courtesy photo.