Element 119 Awarded Air Force Small Business R&D Contract
Partners with 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock AFB to Develop Static Aircraft Preservation Coating
“It’s an honor to be recognized by the U.S. military for our ability to provide outstanding protection to its historic assets. We’re eager to show them what we can do.”
(THOMASTON, CT)—Element 119 LLC has been selected by the U.S. Department of the Air Force (DAF)’s AFWERX program for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contract for the development of a cutting-edge coating to protect historic aircraft displays. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and AFWERX have partnered to streamline the SBIR process by accelerating the small business experience through faster proposal-to-award timelines, changing the pool of potential applicants by expanding opportunities to small businesses, and eliminating bureaucratic overhead by continually implementing process improvement changes in contract execution. The DAF began offering the Open Topic SBIR program in 2018, which expanded the range of innovations the DAF funded.
In the spring of 2023, Element 119 started working with the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, home to a variety of outdoor static aircraft at Heritage Park dedicated to preserving and commemorating the history of the U.S. Air Force. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, which oversees more than 2,500 retired aircraft on display in museums, on bases, and at local veterans’ organizations around the country, is also providing guidance for the project.
Each historic aircraft tells a unique story and serves as a powerful visual symbol of honor, service, and sacrifice. Maintaining these outdoor displays, however, is costly and time-consuming. Element 119’s groundbreaking new coating promises to provide superior protection against the elements and significantly extend the time between required maintenance and repainting.
Andrew Zeppa, founder, CEO, and head formulator of the business, says, “It’s an honor to be recognized by the U.S. military for our ability to provide outstanding protection to its historic assets. We’re eager to show them what we can do.”
About Element 119
Element 119 has been producing industry-leading ceramic composite nanocoatings for the automotive, aerospace, and marine industries since its founding in 2010. The company has a production facility and laboratory in Thomaston, CT, and a business office in Cheshire, CT. It specializes in developing custom coatings for a wide variety of customers, including Fortune 500 companies. For more information, visit: www.element119.com.
About 19th Airlift Wing
The 19th Airlift Wing supports the largest C-130 fleet in the world, supplying humanitarian airlift relief and airdropping military supplies and troops around the globe. Under the direction of 19th Maintenance Squadron Wing Corrosion Manager SSgt. Austin Oliver, and with the support of The Little Rock Air Force Base Historical Foundation, Element 119 will coat two freshly painted historic planes at Heritage Park and test the protective performance of the new coating. “This is a great opportunity to extend cleaning and painting cycles and save both money and man-hours while keeping our historic aircraft looking their best,” according to SSgt. Oliver.
About Air Force Research Laboratory
AFRL is the sole organization leading the planning and execution of U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force science and technology programs. It orchestrates a worldwide government, industry, and academia coalition in the discovery, development, and delivery of a wide range of revolutionary technology. AFRL provides leading-edge warfighting capabilities keeping air, space, and cyberspace forces the world’s best. The organization employs 10,800 military, civilian, and contractor personnel at 17 research sites, executing an annual $4B budget. For more information, visit: www.afresearchlab.com.
The innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within AFRL, AFWERX brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. It employs approximately 325 military, civilian, and contractor personnel at five hubs and sites, executing an annual $1.4B budget. Since 2019, AFWERX has executed 4,671 contracts worth more than $2B to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit: www.afwerx.com.
(The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.)
Element 119 Press Contact:
19th Airlift Wing Press Contact:
19th AW Public Affairs Office