A Power Struggle Over the F-35 Fighter Jet Comes to A Head As Lawmaker Threatens to Hold Up Contract (excerpt)
(Source: The Washington Post; published Nov 16, 2019)
By Aaron Gregg
The U.S. military’s most expensive weapons program seemed to be under threat from all sides at a recent hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, as skeptical lawmakers called out supply chain problems that have meant only a third of the Pentagon’s F-35 fighter jets are capable of carrying out all the missions for which they were built.
Ellen Lord, a former defense executive who is now the Pentagon’s top weapons-buyer, admitted that the complicated IT system supporting the fleet’s maintenance infrastructure still falls far short of expectations. Lockheed and the Pentagon’s Joint Program Office are still embroiled in a long-running dispute over who owns the F-35’s complicated algorithms, a debate that could chart the future of the program.
And some lawmakers criticized the terms of Lockheed’s arrangement with the government, saying overly generous intellectual property agreements threaten to lock Lockheed into a wasteful long-term profit machine with limited accountability.
Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) threatened to hold up a multibillion-dollar contract if fundamental questions aren’t resolved, suggesting there should be a broader sea change in how military agencies work with weapons builders.
“Heretofore, the contractors have had the ‘long end’ of the lever, and the government has been on the ‘short end’ of the lever. ... That is going to change,” Garamendi told Lockheed Martin executives assembled at the hearing. “The power is shifting ... with the fulcrum moving closer to the government’s side." (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Washington Post website.
The Pentagon Plan to Save the F-35’s Logistics System Hinges On Whether Lockheed Will Relinquish Data Control (excerpt)
(Source: Defense News; posted Nov. 14, 2019)
By David B. Larter and Joe Gould
WASHINGTON – The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin are at odds over how much data the military can have access to for its own jet, the F-35, and that’s creating renewed friction in the fight to fix longstanding issues with the automated logistics system vital to keeping it flying.
The Pentagon and Lockheed say a relaunched version of the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, should be ready to start sending to squadrons by September 2020. Both the military’s top acquisition official and the F-35 program manager expressed frustration to lawmakers at a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing Tuesday with how much control Lockheed asserts over crucial data for the system.
ALIS is an off-board system that runs the maintenance and logistics system for the F-35.
“One of the key elements of coming up with a new ALIS architecture, data standards, and all the other parts that would make a very good system is understanding the data set as it exists today — what all the algorithms are — and we are still in the process of going through that with Lockheed Martin,” said Ellen Lord, the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. “But understanding where all the intellectual property is and making sure the government has access to what it has paid for is a key part of rearchitecting ALIS.”
The fight over intellectual property stems from the original concept for the program, which gave Lockheed Martin sweeping control over virtually every major aspect of the F-35, from design and fabrication to maintenance, parts and logistics. But in recent years, dissatisfied by rising costs and delays, the Pentagon has sought to wrest more control back from Lockheed. Intellectual property rights and disputes over proprietary data, however, have often tripped up such efforts. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Defense News website.