Updated F-35 Logistics System Coming Soon

By Valerie Insinna

Over the next couple of months, the F-35’s maintenance and logistics system will undergo a facelift with new hardware and software aimed at reducing the time needed to process data.

Lockheed Martin delivered the newest version of the autonomic logistics information system, or ALIS, on Sept. 1, said Mary Ann Horter, vice president of Lockheed’s mission systems and training division. The software update includes new trend analysis and fleet management capabilities.

“Today, we’re providing data at the squadron [level],” she said. The update will allow senior leaders to view and manage data such as maintenance priorities, failure rates and flight schedules.

 F-35 maintainers already employ ALIS to pull data from the aircraft, diagnose problems, order parts and guide the technician through repairs. Pilots can also plan and debrief missions using the system, which has flown more than 12,000 sorties, Horter said.

Lockheed also analyzes that data to measure the performance of the F-35, she said. “If we’re seeing failure rates happening that we didn’t expect ... that provides us information to see if maybe we need to make a change” to the fighter design or its components.

The new software will undergo flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California and Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland before deploying to other bases in early 2015, she said.

In addition to the software update, Lockheed was scheduled to field new hardware for the system at the end of September, Horter said. The portable memory device reader allows maintainers to download and process aircraft data three times faster than before.

Without the PMD reader, it takes about 45 minutes to process data after a flight, she said. Expediting that will “give information to the maintainer quicker, so that he can go do whatever tasks he needs to go do.”

Lockheed is already working on an expeditionary version of ALIS that will make the system easier for Marines to carry when deployed. The update will cut back the system’s hardware footprint by at least one third, Horter said.

“What we’ve done with new technology is be able to reduce the size and the weight of the components, as well as to make it more modular so that they can take which assets they need for their particular operations,” she said. Marines and sailors will more easily be able to transport the hardware up and down the steep, narrow ladders and stairs on ships, for example.

Lockheed expects to field the expeditionary ALIS system by summer 2015 to support the Marine Corps’ F-35 initial operational capability, she said. It will also be distributed to the other services and international customers.

Topics: Infotech, Logistics

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