A History of Landing Mats
The US military began using pierced steel planks (PSP) mats in World War II, which were necessitated by rapid developments in the Pacific Theater, where “island hopping” became a necessity. PSP matting (or Marston Mats/Marsden matting) was able to handle minor surface deficiencies but generally needed a stabilized sub grade to function efficiently. Typical PSP matting was 10ft x 16” and were made of hardened steel. Each mat contained a punched hole pattern with a corrugated U shaped channel between holes for added structural integrity. PSP matting continued to be utilized post WWII but fell out of favor with the emergence of jet aircraft and the heavier wheel loads associated with landing newer aircraft.
During the Vietnam War the M8A1 mat was introduced. This was a solid corrugated mat, designed to minimize issues with foreign object debris (FOD) that became common with newer jet engine aircraft. The M8A1 mats were 12ft by 22” (147lbs) and were constructed from a single sheet of solid steel that contained no punch out’s (like the PSP matting). Each mat contained 4 corrugated channels along the length of the mat. The European Equivalent JR Mat is 10ft x 18” (97lbs) and contains only 3 corrugated channels along the length of the mat. Both the M8A1 and JR Mat are still in widespread use globally.
The need for a design that minimized weight necessitated the development of an aluminum matting system. The air force began using AM2 matting in the 1960’s and it continues to be in widespread use globally by the US and other militaries. The M19 Landing Mat was an alternative to the AM2 mat but is no longer available commercially. Each AM2 is either 12ft x 2ft or 6ft x 2ft (half section) and incorporate a connection methodology that allow for various configurations. AM2 matting, although robust and multifaceted is heavy to transport and install. Furthermore, AM2 matting is difficult to maintain and requires maintenance equipment to keep operational.
Signature views its S2G composite landing mat system as the logical next step for temporary or semi-permanent airfield use. Its lightweight design, rapidly deployable system, and durable composite construction make it ideal for today’s expeditionary airfield requirements. Each 3ft x 8ft mat can be deployed by two people and is designed to be efficiently transported on standard 493L pallets (2 mats wide x 1 mat long = 6ft x 8ft). Sections are deployed rapidly using Signature’s proprietary connection system and do not require heavy equipment for positioning or transport.
Today’s landing mats are used for temporary airfields, semi-permanent airfields, main operating bases (also commercial airports), Short Airfields for Tactical Support (SATS), small helicopter landing pads, and landing pads for vertical take-off and landing (VOTL) sites for non-helo aircraft with vertical flight capabilities, UAV landing strips, maintenance shelter flooring, taxiway and parking apron extensions, other hard standing areas, and a variety of other aviation related applications.
Rapid Runway Repair
Airfield Damage Repair (ADR) began in WWII where aggregate, crushed stone, sand, and other fill was used to fill bomb damaged runways. This method continues to be used, depending on the type of aircraft and area deployed. With the emergence of jet aircraft, there was an increase in the risk of foreign object damage (FOD). For today’s rapid runway repair, the US Military has used AM2 matting and more recently the air force has deployed the fiberglass Foldable Fiberglass Mat (FFM) system, which is designed as a foreign object debris (FOD) cover for damaged airfield facilities that have been repaired using expedient fill methods. The FFM system consists of pre-connected fiberglass sections totaling 30ft W x 54ft L, for crater repair. The US Army has deployed the Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) matting system as its FOD cover, and this system operates in a similar manner to the air force FFM system in covering a blast crater.
Signature’s S2G system is designed to be a more economical, more maneuverable, and easier to deploy substitute to traditional AM2 matting or air force FFM and army FRP systems.