The flight line at Number 3 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown was ‘electric’ last month with the testing of virtual F-35A operations at the recently commissioned F-35A Off-Board Information Systems Centre (OBISC).
Officer In Charge (OIC) of the OBISC, Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Stuart Carpenter, explains how the first OBISC test event signifies another important achievement on the Australian F-35A Project.
“In addition to other functions the OBISC gives Australia the ability to test software prior to integration into the Defence Single Information Environment (SIE), and also provides the opportunity for staff to gain an understanding of F-35A procedures and processes prior to the arrival of the first aircraft in December 2018,” SQNLDR Carpenter said.
“The test event was arranged to demonstrate the varied capabilities of the OBISC, providing confidence to the Air Force that we are prepared for the significant change that this fifth generation technology will bring to our Defence Force.”
What’s an OBISC?
The OBISC is an Australian dedicated information systems centre built to manage and sustain the highly complex global F-35 information system known as ALIS (Autonomic Logistics Information System).
ALIS provides the information system infrastructure (hardware, software and data) that performs maintenance management, fault diagnostics, supply support, mission planning, and training management across the F-35A weapon system.
The Australian F-35A Project
The Australian F-35A Project has already spent several years developing an Enterprise Architecture Model (EAM)—a mapping tool used to help identify Australian unique business process and support requirements—to ensure a smooth integration of the F-35A into the RAAF.
“Facilitating F-35A information system testing in an integrated test environment, along with planning, hosting and coordinating a test event, also allowed us to validate EAM-developed business processes while providing hands on ALIS training and familiarisation for Air Force members,” SQNLDR Carpenter said.
“This marks the beginning of the substantial transformation required for the RAAF to support this outstanding capability in-service.”
What’s on the horizon?
While the first OBISC test event was considered a success, challenges remain as the Australian F-35A Project prepares to support ferry of the first F-35A aircraft to Australia in December 2018.
“Over the next 12 months we will continue to grow our workforce to prepare for the first aircraft arrival,” SQNLDR Carpenter said.
“We will also receive our first F-35A Deployable Information Communication Technology Facility (DIF) in early 2018 that we will not only have to learn how to operate locally, but also use in support of the ferry of initial aircraft to Australia.”
In the future, the OBISC may provide an opportunity for Australia to assist in software testing as part of the global F-35 Program.
Australia currently has two operational aircraft at the F-35A International Pilot Training Centre at Luke AFB, Arizona, with 10 additional aircraft in various stages of production at the Lockheed Martin facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
RAAF Base Williamtown continues its significant transformation in preparation of F-35A operations with all facilities works on schedule for completion prior to First Aircraft Arrival in December 2018.