Two additively manufactured cargo links have been installed on two operational MH-47G Chinook helicopters at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, USA, as part of an extended flight test programme. The cargo links were additively manufactured from a high-strength aluminium alloy 7A77 under the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) AMNOW programme.
Launched in 2019 by NCDMM and partners, the AMNOW programme aims to support the insertion of AM technology into the existing U.S. Army supply chain. The cargo links are reported to be the first army-developed metal additively manufactured aircraft parts to be flown on army aircraft.
In addition to the AMNOW programme team and the United States Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC), other key suppliers contributed their services. HRL treated and supplied the aluminium powder, Beehive Industries provided Additive Manufacturing, Penn United Technologies offered machining and finishing, Product Evaluation Systems conducted material testing, and Pinnacle Industrial X-ray Laboratory provided radiographic inspection.
The AMNOW programme team consists of NCDMM, The Barnes Global Advisors, Youngstown Business Incubator, Catalyst Connection, LECS Energy, Quotient, Advanced Engineering Solutions, GCA Coach, and the University of Alabama-Huntsville.