Release Date
November 29th, 2023
Open Date
January 3rd, 2024
Due Date(s)
February 21st, 2024
Close Date
February 21st, 2024
Topic No.


Air Cushioned Vehicle Erosion Resistant Coatings


Department of DefenseN/A


Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2024


The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking proposals for the development of erosion-resistant coatings for air cushion vehicles (ACVs) in their SBIR 24.1 BAA solicitation. ACVs, such as Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) and Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC), face challenges with erosion due to high airflow rates, saltwater, sand particulates, vibrations, and impacts. The Navy is looking for coatings that can improve durability, decrease maintenance time and costs, and improve craft operational availability. The coatings should be suitable for metal and marine composites and must bond to all contact surfaces without separating or delaminating. The Phase I of the project involves developing a concept and demonstrating its feasibility, while Phase II focuses on developing and delivering a production representative application for durability and wear testing. The successful technology will have potential applications in the private sector, including hovercrafts, ferries, the oil and mineral industry, cold climate research, and military machinery with high airflow. The solicitation is closed, and more information can be found on the Defense SBIR/STTR website.




OBJECTIVE: Develop coatings suitable for metal and marine composites to improve durability, decrease maintenance time and costs, and improve craft operational availability.


DESCRIPTION: Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) and Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) are Air Cushion Vehicles (ACVs), or “hovercraft”, providing amphibious transportation of equipment and personnel from ship-to-shore and shore-to-shore. Erosion has been an antagonist for the ACV industry for many years. In operation, ACVs produce high airflow rates at speeds up to 300 mph across mostly composite components and surfaces. This massive amount of air flow can be saturated with saltwater and sand particulates. ACV components are also exposed to constant vibrations, high winds, impacts, and other foreign object debris. ACVs require erosion protection to cover large internal composite surfaces while minimizing both cost of acquisition and manpower for installation and maintenance. After a comprehensive survey of the industry, multiple commercial products have been attempted with no viable solution found. The internal flow surfaces on the craft that must be preserved from erosion include the bow thruster nozzle, upper lift fan volute, lower lift fan volute, propulsor shroud, propulsor stators, and rudders. As each component is custom and designed specific to its location, it must maintain its shape and composition. Figures and dimensions of these components can be found in Reference 4 linked below. The Navy has researched and evaluated multiple erosion coatings and tapes with marginal success in the harsh environment. Current solutions are difficult to apply and repair in the field. The Navy is seeking an optimized erosion protection solution to decrease maintenance and inspection intervals on all ACV composite surfaces, increasing mission efficiency and readiness. This product solution should be manageable for the onsite maintainers to reapply and repair when needed, including inside an amphibious ship’s well deck or on an isolated beach in a deployed environment. A successful coating technology must bond to all contact surfaces and not present the possibility of separating or delaminating, causing further damage to other components. A solution that meets all ACV erosion requirements would result in lowered overall maintenance effort and cost.


PHASE I: Develop a concept for erosion prevention for ACVs that meets the requirements as described above. Demonstrate the feasibility of the concept in meeting Navy needs. Demonstrate that the durable erosion prevention application can be readily and cost-effectively manufactured through standard industry practices by material testing and analytical modeling. The Phase I Option, if exercised, should include the initial layout and capabilities to demonstrate the application in Phase II.


PHASE II: Based on the results of the Phase I effort and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW), develop and deliver an erosion prevention application that meets the requirements in the Description. A production representative application will be installed on an actual ACV component or appropriate test platform for durability and wear testing. The technology will be evaluated and compared to other erosion prevention methods to determine its ability to meet specified requirements. These evaluation results will be used to refine the erosion prevention application into a design that will meet ACV Craft Specifications. Prepare a Phase III development plan and cost analysis to transition the technology to Navy use.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the erosion prevention application for use on the ACV program. The satisfactory ACV erosion prevention method will have private sector and commercial potential for hovercrafts of this scale operating in the near-shore or on-shore environment, which are all currently struggling with erosion prevention. Commercial applications include ferries, the oil and mineral industry, cold climate research and exploration. Other industrial and military machinery with high airflow could also benefit from technologies developed during this effort.



Brunton, J.H. “A Discussion on Deformation of Solids by the Impact of Liquids, and its Relation to Rain Damage in Aircraft and Missiles, to Blade Erosion in Steam Turbines, and to Cavitation Erosion.” Royal Society, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Vol. 260, No. 1110, Jul. 28, 1966, pp. 161-167. 
Bastian, Andy. “Aircraft Radome and Leading Edge Erosion!” Industrial Drone Services, June 16, 2014. 
Rowbotham, Jim. “Erosion Protection of Aircraft Radomes and Leading Edges - Protect Your Asset and Your Image.” April 23, 2016. 
Air Cushioned Vehicle Erosion Resistant Coatings, Figures and Dimensions of Components


KEYWORDS: Air Cushion Vehicle (ACV); Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC); Landing Craft; Air Cushion (LCAC); Foreign Object Debris; High Velocity Airflow