Lockheed Martin: F-35 Logistics System Evolving

 - July 20, 2012, 3:37 PM
The first military pilots and maintainers are undergoing training on the F-35 ALIS at an F-35 Integrated Training Center at Eglin AFB. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin executives contend that a new Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) that will provide long-term maintenance support for the F-35 Lightning II is evolving in line with the fighter. The ALIS was cited among F-35 program risks in a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

ALIS is described as the F-35’s information technology backbone for data collection, data analysis and decision support. The system receives aircraft health and maintenance information from F-35s in flight via radio-frequency downlink. The data is disseminated to appropriate users on a web-based distributed network. ALIS enables the pre-positioning of parts and maintainers on the ground, supporting F-35 maintenance and supply chain management. It automatically generates notices of needed actions to system managers.

The initial ALIS software release was reported to have nearly 40 percent of the system’s planned capabilities when ALIS was formally “switched on” at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics headquarters in Forth Worth, Texas, in April 2007. The system is now running at Eglin AFB in Florida, where the first military pilots and maintainers are undergoing training at an F-35 Integrated Training Center. As of July, 16 low-rate initial production F-35s had been delivered there.

In a June report, the GAO cited ALIS among ongoing “affordability” risks with the F-35 program. According to the agency, F-35 testers concluded in an operational assessment report that an early release of the system “was not mature, did not meet operational suitability requirements and would require substantial improvements to achieve sortie generation rates and life-cycle cost requirements.”

A Lockheed Martin F-35 program spokesman said a “verification of data” test conducted at Eglin AFB in the first quarter “identified some issues that need to be worked.” Many of those issues are classified and could not be discussed, he said.

Steve O’Bryan, vice president of F-35 program integration and business development, said 90 percent of the ALIS system capability at Eglin AFB will be achieved by 2013. O’Bryan said he needs to “manage expectations” for a system that moves from being a diagnostic maintenance tool to performing prognostic aircraft health management.

Joanne Puglisi, director of F-35 training at Lockheed Martin’s Global Training and Logistics center in Orlando, Florida, said the progress of the ALIS system has not affected the start of F-35 training at Eglin AFB.