Critical Software Not Working In F-35 Fighter Jets (excerpt)
(Source: Federal News Network; posted April 1, 2020)
Hard to believe as it might be, a central and critical software system of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter simply doesn’t work. And that’s making people who maintain and certify the readiness of the expensive jet a little crazy. Federal Drive with Tom Temin got the latest from Diana Maurer, the director of Defense Capabilities and Management issues at the Government Accountability Office.

Interview transcript:

-- Tom Temin:
Mrs. Maurer, good to have you back.

-- Diana Maurer:
Good morning, Tom. Great to be back on the show.

-- Tom Temin:
So, this is the ALIS system, ALIS, which is central to the maintenance and writing this, if not the combat systems. Is that a good way to put it?

-- Diana Maurer:
Right. So ALIS is an acronym, like many things at DoD for the autonomic logistics information system. That, of course, doesn’t tell you anything about what it does, but basically it’s the heart of operating and maintaining the F-35. And like the aircraft itself, it’s very complex. It’s very multifaceted, and it’s very ambitious. It was designed to make maintenance, supply and operations easier and more efficient. But as you noted in opening our conversation this morning, it has not delivered on those promises.

-- Tom Temin:
And this goes back so many years, the development of this. It’s probably 20 years that they’ve been working on ALIS. What [are the] issues at this point?

-- Diana Maurer:
Well absolutely. You’re absolutely right. This goes back 20 years or more. The F-35 program itself was launched in October of 2001. So that means that in the late 1990s or mid-1990s, there, thinking conceptually about what eventually became ALIS, and where we are today is that there is a big gap between what ALIS was planned to do and what it’s actually doing.

For example, if you’re a mechanic on an F-35, the concept was that your you plug the F-35 into the system. ALIS does the diagnostics check on the aircraft. It can figure out whether parts need to be replaced or are on the brink of being needed to be replaced. That information’s uploaded into a system. The parts are ordered automatically, so you have a seamless ability to both troubleshoot problems and manage inventory.

The reality is that interface is not working as planned. It has never worked as planned, and what we found in either visiting or gaining information from all 10 of the U.S. Bases where F-35s were deployed is that there is a great deal of frustration among mechanics among pilots and among commanders. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full transcript, on the Federal News Network website (Podcast available)


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