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Composites Feature in 2005 US Defence Funding Projects

30 July 2004

US Congressman Michael H. Michaud has highlighted a number of defence programmes for 2005 contains $18.6 million for projects in the state of Maine.

Michaud worked to secure for four Maine projects, and one project for $5.6 million promoted by the entire New England delegation. The bill is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the President in the coming weeks.

Specifically, the bill contains $7 million for the Army Centre of Excellence, $1 million for the Mobile Thermal Perimeter Surveillance System project, $4 million for the construction of the Mark V (Mk V) Patrol Boat prototype in Maine, $1 million for the Structural Reliability of FRP Composites in Ship Assemblies, and $5.6 million for the New England Manufacturing Supply Chain.

Throughout the appropriations process, Congressman Michaud met with Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Jack Murtha on numerous occasions to follow-up on his priority requests and to discuss the importance of these projects to the local economy.

Details of the projects include:
$7 million for the U.S. Army Centre of Excellence: Advanced Structures in Composites in Construction Project

The University of Maine's proposed U.S. Army Centre of Excellence will focus on addressing the U.S. Army needs in fundamental and applied research related to uses of advanced composite materials and structures in construction. The university plans to use its wood composite technology to potentially build bridges, bunkers, housing, piers and storage facilities that can be carried easily and constructed quickly for military purposes.

""The Army Centre of Excellence will be of tremendous economic benefit to our state for the future. This Centre will focus on addressing the U.S. Army needs in fundamental and applied research related to uses of advanced composite materials and structures in construction,"" Michaud explained.

""This Centre will partner with over 90 Maine composite material manufacturers to generate new defense high-tech manufacturing and research and development jobs,"" Michaud stated. ""This is a huge investment and excellent first step in establishing Maine as a leader in defense procurement projects.""

Congressman Michaud recently toured the Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Centre with United States Army General Paul Kern, the head of Army Material Command. During the meeting, Michaud emphasized the importance of this project to the General, explaining that the loss of manufacturing jobs in the State of Maine, primarily due to inexpensive imports, has recently accelerated to unprecedented levels.

""This Centre will make Maine a leader in an emerging industry on the cutting edge of technology,"" Michaud said. ""These are important research and development federal dollars that will help create sustainable economic development in our state.""

$1 million for the Mobile Thermal Perimeter Surveillance System. The Mobile Thermal Perimeter Surveillance System project in the Fiscal Year 2005 Defence Appropriations bill will assist with the development of Maine Monolite LLC as they work to establish research and development and manufacturing facilities in Millinocket and Bath.

In April, Monolite Composites of Tualatin, Oregon, announced plans to start a company in Bath known as Maine Monolite to produce raw Monolite, a lightweight, malleable composite material that supposedly can withstand bullets and temperatures of up to 2,850 degrees. The company also planned to start a company in Millinocket, which would fabricate the composite into highly efficient engines and armoured, multipurpose vehicles with military uses.

""I am very excited about this initiative and what it could mean for our Northern Maine economy,"" Michaud said. ""The viability of the Monolite material for proposed products as well as the potential market with the U.S. Armed Forces is very encouraging.""

$4 million for the construction of the Mark V (Mk V) Patrol Boat prototype. The United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) recently expressed very serious concerns regarding the extremely rough ride of their current medium range insertion craft: the Mark V Patrol Boat.

Responding to these concerns, a Maine-based design and manufacturing team was assembled. This joint venture, lead by the University of Maine's Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Centre and Hodgdon Yachts, Inc., in conjunction with other Maine composite companies, is working to refine and improve the design of the patrol boat by creating a prototype vessel, in order to deliver a significantly improved ride utilizing composite construction, shock mitigation techniques, and an improved hull design.

Currently, SOCOM is reviewing the requirements for the Mark V, with plans to start replacing the existing 20-boat fleet beginning in Fiscal Year 2008. The improvements that will be demonstrated in the new Mark V prototype will be of substantial value to SOCOM as they define their new requirements for the vessel that will eventually replace the Mark V.

""This project will allow the University of Maine's Advanced Engineered Wood Composites (AEWC) Centre, Hodgdon Yachts, Incorporated, and other boat-building industries to demonstrate their outstanding capabilities in state-of-the-art composite material boat-building,"" Michaud explained.

""There is a growing market for these types of vessels, and it is my hope that this project will help create further economic opportunity for Maine to become the potential supplier for the new fleet of vessels to the defense industry,"" Michaud said.

$1 million for the development of Structural Reliability of Fiber-Reinforced-Polymer (FPR) Composites in Ship Assemblies. The University of Maine Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Centre has partnered with the NSWC-Carderock, Bath Iron Works (BIW), TPI Composites Incorporated, and Seemann Composites Incorporated, in its goal to become a strategic asset for the Navy in the development of reliable, advanced FPR-composite ship structures.

This program is developing methods to reliably design and manufacture large FPR composite parts for ships, resulting in safer, more cost-effective structures. This project will address two major issues concerning the use of composites in mainstream ship construction: the ability to produce large parts with relatively consistent properties and the ability to properly handle inherent FRP material property variability in ship design.

""This federal funding is a testament to all the tremendous work the University of Maine, in conjunction with industry partners, is doing in the development of cutting- edge composite materials,"" Michaud said. ""The university is a world-leader when it comes to this type of research and development, and all their outstanding work will result in our naval vessels being safer and more efficient.""






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