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Maintainers, rejoice! The first phase of a major F-35 logistics overhaul is complete

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Maintainers, rejoice! The first phase of a major F-35 logistics overhaul is complete

All of the oldest servers used to run the F-35's logistics system have now been replaced with modern hardware, with hopes of software to follow.​

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WASHINGTON: Maintaining the exquisite F-35 joint strike fighter has just gotten a little bit easier.

The F-35 program has completed the initial deployment of new computing hardware for the jet’s logistics system, the F-35 joint program office announced today. This milestone marks the first step for transitioning the F-35’s notorious Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) to a modern computing system called the Operational Data Integrated Network, or ODIN.

According to the program office, all first-generation unclassified ALIS servers have now been replaced by ODIN Base Kit, or OBK, which is 75% smaller and lighter than the legacy ALIS hardware.

ALIS has been a perpetual thorn in the side of maintainers and other personnel charged with supporting the F-35. Originally conceived as a comprehensive system that would allow maintainers to order parts, provide technical data and monitor the health of the aircraft, in practice ALIS has been slow and often buggy, based on outdated computer technology that was created in the early 2000s.

While the ODIN base kits currently run ALIS software, the program office hopes to develop new cloud-based ODIN software in the future, which would present maintainers with a intuitive applications to simplify F-35 support.

“This new server hardware has proven to be a valuable successor to the aging ALIS system hardware, one that offers a significant performance upgrade, at lower cost, and in a readily supportable package,” said Air Force Col. Dan Smith, who is charged with overseeing ALIS and ODIN. “OBK allows us to replace hardware before obsolescence issues become critical and it allows us to provide better service to the maintainers.”

The new ODIN hardware, which comprises two modules weighing less than 100 pounds each, offers significant performance improvements compared to the legacy ALIS gear. Processing times have been cut in half, and the hardware is both more secure and more easy to maintain, the program office said.

A total of 12 installations across the United States have fielded ODIN hardware:

  • Naval Air Station Lemoore, California
  • Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada
  • Hill Air Force Base, Utah
  • Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska
  • Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California
  • Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina
  • Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
  • Luke Air Force Base, Arizona
  • Edwards Air Force Base, California—which is home to three ODIN kits
  • Marine Corps test squadron VMX-1 at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, Arizona
  • F-35 Integrated Test Force, which conducts test flights at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland
  • Lockheed Martin Aeronautics factory, Ft. Worth, Texas
Two international users — the United Kingdom’s Portsmouth Naval Base and Italy’s Amendola Air Base — have also received their first ODIN kits, while two of three kits at Edwards AFB support the UK and Netherlands.

F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin, which designed ALIS, developed the new ODIN hardware. Additional ODIN kits are set to be delivered in 2022, and all new US and international squadrons will be outfitted with the new hardware, the program office stated.

The program office is working on new hardware to replace classified servers, with plans to roll out the first classified ODIN kits late this year.

However, it is unclear whether all legacy ALIS hardware will be replaced with ODIN, with the JPO stating that “is dependent on funding availability and scheduling constraints for operational squadrons.”

In other F-35 news, the Air Force recently took a step toward a next-generation replacement for the F-35A’s engine. Last week, the service issued a request for information about adaptive engines that could replace the jet’s current F135 engine made by Pratt & Whitney.

General Electric Aviation and Pratt and Whitney, which are developing new propulsion systems as part of the Air Force’s Adaptive Engine Transition Program, are expected to respond.

 

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