The Naval Air Warfare Center (NAVAIR) Division of the U.S. Navy awarded Vector Composites a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to compare the properties of Quickstep and autoclave processing on one or more qualified carbon-fiber prepreg systems used by the U.S. Navy on helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. The research grant represents the first contract issued by the U.S. Department of Defense specifically focused on evaluating Quickstep’s patented composites manufacturing process for military aircraft. All test panels for the Phase I effort will be prepared by Vector, with the autoclave panels cured in Vector’s equipment and the Quickstep panels cured in a Quickstep machine. An independent lab certified to supply the data to the Navy will perform the physical and mechanical testing. The effort commenced in May, with a final report due in late 2008. An optional component in the Phase I award may be exercised by NAVAIR to fabricate additional parts for further investigation. Dependent on the success of the Phase I effort, a much larger Phase II contract may be awarded, in which representative components for specific Navy aircraft or helicopters will be fabricated.