In 1990, with the Soviet Union in its death throes, it seemed high time to begin stowing away some of the tens of thousands of tons of electronics the United States military had accumulated to fight the Cold War. At least, that was the line of thinking in the first half of the year. Then, that August, Iraqi forces rolled into Kuwait, and our line of thinking had to change yet again in preparation for the First Gulf War.
As American forces began their rapid build-up to Desert Storm, a major issue came to light. The electronic equipment onboard tanks, Humvees, and mobile artillery, much of which had been corralled in storage sheds throughout the United States and West Germany, began to malfunction in the rugged desert environment. Due galvanic incompatibility, caused in many cases by inadequate EMI shielding gaskets and gasket design, the electronic enclosures on many of these items simply couldn’t withstand the environment they were subjected to, and began in many cases, just falling apart.
In short, the American military discovered what thousands of grade school science students have discovered when building their first primitive wet cell batteries: galvanic action can cause the fast sacrifice of enclosures, especially aluminum and magnesium, in tough environments. The need became apparent to develop moldings, extrusions, and EMI/RFI shielding gaskets that would allow for the American military’s high-performance, high-maintenance electronic equipment to perform at optimal level for long periods of time.
Since those days of 1991, we’ve come a long way in terms of our design-work for military electronics and, by extension, ruggedized commercial applications. At Vanguard Products we’ve fabricated any number of custom moldings, rubber extrusions, and shielding gaskets for some of the most sophisticated vehicles and weapons systems in America’s arsenal. Just ask the soldiers and marines who fought in the Second Gulf War. While it’s a given that mil-spec equipment is prone to breakage and failure in wartime (just as in peacetime), the anticipated epidemic of mechanical and electronic failures similar to the First Gulf War never materialized for the Second, at least not on the same scale. It’s because we as a country had learned our lessons from 1991. It’s because companies like Vanguard Products had applied those lessons with consideration and care to the equipment they had designed.