Pentagon completes first phase of replacement for ailing F-35 logistics system

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Defense has completed fielding the first batch of new logistics systems for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, replacing an older, malfunctioning system that has caused headaches for the program for years.

In a statement Monday, the F-35 Joint Program Office said the first 14 sets of the new Integrated Operational Data Network Logistics Information System, or ODIN, have completed deployment to F-35 squadrons. in January.

This initial phase of ODIN hardware deployment, known as the ODIN Base Kit, has now replaced all unclassified first-generation Autonomous Logistics Information System or ALIS servers in the field, the JPO said. Installation of the ODIN base kit began in July 2021 and was carried out by JPO, Lockheed Martin personnel and local squadron crews.

ODIN base kits are now used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as three allies who fly the F-35 – the UK, the Netherlands and Italy – said the JPO.

F-35 program general manager Lt. Gen. Eric Fick called the deployment of ODIN “a major step in modernizing F-35 logistics information systems in support of global operations.”

“This was a team effort between the Department of Defense, the defense industry and our F-35 partners, and it is a giant leap forward in supporting international logistics and operational management of the global and expanding F-35 fleet,” Fick said in The Release.

The F-35’s ALIS system – which was supposed to help the military order spare parts for the fighter, plan and track maintenance, and keep tabs on ready-to-fly planes – was deeply troubled.

The Government Accountability Office in 2020 said crucial data supposed to be automatically collected by ALIS was often inaccurate or misleading. Maintainers frequently had to keep tabs on this information themselves, sometimes in Excel spreadsheets. Not only would this waste maintenance managers’ time, the GAO said, but it was risky because sometimes critical safety data could be overlooked.

ALIS was also very user-unfriendly, the GAO said, with an interface system that was difficult to navigate. And its chunky server units weigh around 200 pounds each — the entire system was approaching 900 pounds — and require an entire room to operate, which the GAO says makes them difficult to deploy and find a place. to store them on a ship.

The JPO announced in 2020 that a new logistics system, designed by Lockheed Martin and dubbed ODIN, would replace ALIS.

The Pentagon’s chief weapons tester said in his latest report released last week that the total hardware of each ODIN base kit weighs between 134 and 202 pounds – a 65-pound ODIN system itself, an uninterruptible power supply 69 pounds and an optional battery extender that weighs 68 pounds.

That’s less than a quarter of the 891 pounds the ALIS legacy hardware the standard unclassified operational unit weighed, along with a similar reduction in volume, according to the report from the director of the operational test office and the Evaluation.

The JPO said the improved computing of the ODIN Core Kit reduces processing times by up to 50% compared to ALIS. The systems are also more secure and easier to maintain and support, according to the statement. They can run ALIS software, as well as future ODIN applications.

More ODIN units will be delivered later this year and in 2023 as the old ALIS servers are retired, but the timeline for doing so depends on available funding and when operational squadrons can find time in their schedules.

The deployment of ODIN has encountered budget constraints in the past. Last April, Fick told lawmakers that the JPO had taken a “strategic pause” in ODIN software development due to a 42% cut in funding for development and testing of the program that year.

These problems may persist. The most recent DOT&E report warned that development and operational testing for ALIS and ODIN “continue to be under-resourced, increasing risk to provisioning and support.”

The report also warned that cybersecurity vulnerabilities in ALIS, which were discovered during testing of this program, will need to be patched when the system moves to ODIN.

The locations that received initial ODIN hardware were 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, Calif.; Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina; the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics plant in Fort Worth, Texas; Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.; Edwards Air Force Base, California; Amendola Air Base, Italy; and Portsmouth Naval Base, UK

Edwards received three ODIN kits, two of which support testing for the UK and the Netherlands conducted in the US.

Stephen Losey is Defense News’ air warfare reporter. He previously reported for Military.com, covering the Pentagon, special ops and air warfare. Prior to that, he covered Air Force leadership, personnel, and operations for Air Force Times.

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