A $35 silicone rubber component is set to save more than $40 million for the U.S. military.
The "snubber" developed by the Propulsion Directorate is a vibration damper that will prevent cracks in the J-seal on the F119 engine's inlet case, a spoked, ring-like device that helps control the air going into the engine.
The little orange snubber looks like an exotic pencil eraser and fits in the gap opposite where the J-seal is welded to the inlet case. Seven $35 snubbers are fit on each engine, meaning outfitting each F-22 costs $245.
The snubbers began being used in April 2011, and about 3,000 flight hours have been logged. They were designed to last half the life of the engine, but because they're so cheap, new ones will be installed whenever the engine is pulled.
"On the F119, we hope this will eliminate a huge maintenance driver at a very, very low cost," said Stephen Brinkman, F119 Fan and Compressor WBS Manager for the F-22 Division. "You would not believe how expensive these parts are. And that's the beauty of it - it's such a simple, cheap fix."
Previously, if cracks were discovered, the engine would need to be pulled and the end of the crack drilled to stop it from growing. If any problems arose during drilling, the $362,000 inlet case had to be discarded.