Insight: LM's F-35 logistics system revolutionary but risky

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spazsinbad

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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 13:33

Insight: Lockheed's F-35 logistics system revolutionary but risky By Andrea Shalal-Esa | Nov 16, 2012

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/ ... 9L20121116

"(Reuters) - When computer "hackers" working for the U.S. Navy succeeded in breaking into the computer logistics system that controls the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 Joint Strike Fighter earlier this year, they did the company a favor: allowing it to fix a critical vulnerability in the $396 billion program....

...NAVY'S SURPRISE ATTACK
Lockheed runs ALIS from a large, darkened control room in Fort Worth, Texas. ALIS gives pilots access to their mission plans, but they don't need the system to fly the radar-evading F-35, which will replace nearly a dozen different warplanes now in service worldwide. However the system allows the military to track, diagnose and predict the health of planes in the fleet, not unlike modern "smart cars" that prompt drivers to check tire pressure or change the oil.

Lockheed says ALIS will revolutionize the way military airplanes are serviced and maintained, saving billions of dollars over the life of the program.

But increased sophistication brings greater security risk. Lockheed said it uses in-house "hackers" to test vulnerabilities in its networks and notifies suppliers if it finds any.

Still, the company was not aware of the Navy's stealthy penetration of the system while it was happening. Tom Burbage, Lockheed's general manager for the F-35 program, acknowledged that the Navy's cyber-expert "red team" took Lockheed by surprise.

"It was meant to be a covert surprise, and it was," he told Reuters. "It's classified. It was need-to-know. We didn't know any of the details until we eventually got people who were cleared who got the details."

The problem the Navy exploited, according to several people familiar with the program, centered on the fact that ALIS includes both classified and unclassified data streams, and the two were not properly separated to prevent intrusions.

Burbage said Lockheed developed a "fairly straightforward fix" that did not require major adjustments to the ALIS system, which is now at about 94 percent of its final capability. He said the Pentagon's initial ALIS specifications did not require separating classified and unclassified data, since cyber threats were less prevalent in 2001 when the F-35 program began.

The latest version of ALIS has been in use at Edwards Air Force Base in California for several months, Burbage said, and will be used at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada when Lockheed delivers four F-35s for testing next month or early January....

..."Everything is on schedule now," Killea said, adding Lockheed had done "good work" to fix the logistics system and keep the Marine Corps plans for the Yuma base on schedule."

BEST READ Entire Article because only the bits that interest me appear above.
RAN FAA A4G: http://tinyurl.com/ctfwb3t http://tinyurl.com/ccmlenr http://www.youtube.com/user/bengello/videos
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popcorn

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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 14:20

Are they pre-judging ALIS before it even has a chance to prove itself? At least LM has something that appears to be nearly complete and operational... I can understand bidding out bits and pieces of the sustainment program but ALIS is at the very core of the program. Looks like that $1T figure has spooked a lot of people.
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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 14:36

In truth, everything about the F-35 Program is revolutionary, but risky... not merely the logistics.

The main problem with the Program is that so much inherent risk and 'gamble' is involved with seeing any semblance of success or ultimate affordability (relative affordability) of the jet starting in the next decade. All while current TACAIR levels deteriorate annually with age and obsolescence and rapidly become more hollow as an overall force structure and more an illusion of deterrence.

It would be fine if TACAIR recap was simultaneously being augmented today by a flexible recap strategy to fall back on including other alternatives in the pipe-line and current procurement process.

But what's in the opinion of some, is the likely case that a pretty massive gamble and risk in national defense (staying the course with an all-or-nothing strat) is being implemented by the planners that be in charge of TACAIR recap strategy..

God speed.
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popcorn

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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 15:02

Are they pre-judging ALIS before it even has a chance to prove itself? At least LM has something that appears to be nearly complete and operational... I can understand bidding out bits and pieces of the sustainment program but ALIS is at the very core of the program. Looks like that $1T figure has spooked a lot of people.
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neptune

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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 15:37

popcorn wrote:Are they pre-judging ALIS before it even has a chance to prove itself? At least LM has something that appears to be nearly complete and operational... I can understand bidding out bits and pieces of the sustainment program but ALIS is at the very core of the program. Looks like that $1T figure has spooked a lot of people.


...now popcorn is on his way to the 2k club! Yahoo!

...did you say these doubles were from a hobbled? mobile account?

...must be annoying :wink:
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XanderCrews

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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 15:46

Its all relative, one of my friends says the system they use now has a 99 percent dependability. which is awesome right? well... What it means is every 100 days or so the system goes down for days and they can't do anything.

People confuse the familiar with the ideal.
Formerly known as f414/euro/gripenng/sbug... or whatever it was.
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neptune

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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 15:59

spazsinbad wrote:.............. which is now at about 94 percent of its final capability. ......."Everything is on schedule now," Killea said, adding Lockheed had done "good work" to fix the logistics system ....


Now that BF-17&18 have moved to PAX only 5 LRIP3 a/c are at FW.

Are they still being held for the ALIS restriction?
Has the ALIS restriction been lifted with the movement of BF-17&18?

:?: :)
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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 16:03

neptune wrote:
popcorn wrote:Are they pre-judging ALIS before it even has a chance to prove itself? At least LM has something that appears to be nearly complete and operational... I can understand bidding out bits and pieces of the sustainment program but ALIS is at the very core of the program. Looks like that $1T figure has spooked a lot of people.


...now popcorn is on his way to the 2k club! Yahoo!

...did you say these doubles were from a hobbled? mobile account?

...must be annoying :wink:


Interesting angle - trying to pump up his numbers!
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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 16:16

The more reliable your system becomes the more you need something like the ALIS. It's difficult to keep up the skill set of the maintainers when the time between failures increases. The Maytag Syndrome if you will. You need a repository for the institutional knowledge of these failures. A fleet wide database is great for that in that it combines input from all locations flying the aircraft. A rare failure of a component in a 24 aircraft unit may now be common place in a fleet of 1500. Mining the data on a timely basis should allow you to spot trends and improve the up-time of the fleet.
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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 18:21

geogen wrote:In truth, everything about the F-35 Program is revolutionary, but risky... not merely the logistics.

The main problem with the Program is that so much inherent risk and 'gamble' is involved with seeing any semblance of success or ultimate affordability (relative affordability) of the jet starting in the next decade. All while current TACAIR levels deteriorate annually with age and obsolescence and rapidly become more hollow as an overall force structure and more an illusion of deterrence.

It would be fine if TACAIR recap was simultaneously being augmented today by a flexible recap strategy to fall back on including other alternatives in the pipe-line and current procurement process.

But what's in the opinion of some, is the likely case that a pretty massive gamble and risk in national defense (staying the course with an all-or-nothing strat) is being implemented by the planners that be in charge of TACAIR recap strategy..

God speed.



Thing is, this isn't revolutionary... unless you're just not that familiar with aviation in general. Its the military implementing the MRO system that is already present in civil aviation. New aircraft like the A330, A320, B747-8, -777 767 787, are all heavily equipped with onboard sensors and the ACARS system to transfer that knowledge in flight. Airlines receive that information on maintenance problems, which then try to trouble shoot them in flight, or order parts before the aircraft touches down. They also use two level depot system that ALIS is supposed to utilize.

So when you already have a conclusive, successful model to emulate, its a far less of a risk than what you'd like to portray. Its more the military bringing itself up to modern civil aviation standards after being behind for the past 30 years.
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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 19:22

hb_pencil wrote:[.....implementing the MRO system that is already present in civil aviation. New aircraft like the A330, A320, B747-8, -777 767 787, are all heavily equipped with onboard sensors and the ACARS system to transfer that knowledge in flight. .....



With pending larger? numbers of 767s (AF tankers) and 737s (Navy P-8) is the MRO system sufficiently similar to ALIS to expect their inclusion or will this older system be required to stand alone. Is MRO included in these purchase contracts or is the military too myopic to have included them? :)
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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 20:37

hb_pencil wrote:Thing is, this isn't revolutionary... unless you're just not that familiar with aviation in general. Its the military implementing the MRO system that is already present in civil aviation. New aircraft like the A330, A320, B747-8, -777 767 787, are all heavily equipped with onboard sensors and the ACARS system to transfer that knowledge in flight. Airlines receive that information on maintenance problems, which then try to trouble shoot them in flight, or order parts before the aircraft touches down. They also use two level depot system that ALIS is supposed to utilize.

So when you already have a conclusive, successful model to emulate, its a far less of a risk than what you'd like to portray. Its more the military bringing itself up to modern civil aviation standards after being behind for the past 30 years.

The economic benefits of ALIS emulating the civilian model are not the risk. The risk is security, and if the reduced parts pool is going to adversely effect readiness during a combat surge.

Computerized fleet monitoring and diagnostics has been used with the F/A-18E/F series for over 10 years, successfully. One of the biggest hidden logistics costs is when they start to cannibalize other jets for spares.

We had a F/A-18C "hangar queen" that was transferred off a carrier because of a shortage of a replacement black box that supposedly rarely failed, and was difficult to swap out. The jet was cleared to fly, just not in combat. Our team another F/A-18C that was made combat ready to replace it.
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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 20:43


With pending larger? numbers of 767s (AF tankers) and 737s (Navy P- is the MRO system sufficiently similar to ALIS to expect their inclusion or will this older system be required to stand alone. Is MRO included in these purchase contracts or is the military too myopic to have included them?



Its becoming increasingly common, and are commonly run as part of a Performance Based Logistics contract. Herc-Js are all equipped with an earlier ALIS version and they operate to some degree like the F-35 will. I think the original KC-XX contract was canned because it was excessively generous. I'm almost certain that current aircraft have this sort of program, but I haven't looked into it for each specific case. This has been a major area of development in the past decade because of the potential cost savings.
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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 21:14

neurotech wrote:
hb_pencil wrote:Thing is, this isn't revolutionary... unless you're just not that familiar with aviation in general. Its the military implementing the MRO system that is already present in civil aviation. New aircraft like the A330, A320, B747-8, -777 767 787, are all heavily equipped with onboard sensors and the ACARS system to transfer that knowledge in flight. Airlines receive that information on maintenance problems, which then try to trouble shoot them in flight, or order parts before the aircraft touches down. They also use two level depot system that ALIS is supposed to utilize.

So when you already have a conclusive, successful model to emulate, its a far less of a risk than what you'd like to portray. Its more the military bringing itself up to modern civil aviation standards after being behind for the past 30 years.

The economic benefits of ALIS emulating the civilian model are not the risk. The risk is security, and if the reduced parts pool is going to adversely effect readiness during a combat surge.


I agree to some respects, but that's not what he's getting at... he's looking at general program failure which is not what you're talking about. If anything I think the F-35's maintenance system is superior than previous approaches because its adaptable. In peacetime you should be effectively able to run the F-35 using the global parts system and accrue the efficiencies that it offers. In wartime you could then bring in stocks of commonly used spares to ensure high levels of readiness. The modular nature of the F-35's components should allow for quick changes and high availability. With older equipment, really you get one, or the other, but not both (often neither)

neurotech wrote:Computerized fleet monitoring and diagnostics has been used with the F/A-18E/F series for over 10 years, successfully. One of the biggest hidden logistics costs is when they start to cannibalize other jets for spares.


Absolutely, however afaik the F/A-18E/F isn't really that much of an advance over previous models. Canadian CF-18s have a similar system as well, and we also cannibalize (particularly on operations.) Basically it makes it easier to do the work under the current organizational model. ALIS and the F-35's modular design is designed to create a different organizational model.

Let me give you an operational example.

Right now Canada probably has 20~30% of its CF-18 fleet permanently unavailable because of maintenance. In libya we flew out at least one airframe to serve as a parts mule. A large portion of the maintenance cost is taken up by people fixing parts in the back of a hangar. With ALIS we wouldn't do that work, it would be handed off to the contractor.

neurotech wrote:We had a F/A-18C "hangar queen" that was transferred off a carrier because of a shortage of a replacement black box that supposedly rarely failed, and was difficult to swap out. The jet was cleared to fly, just not in combat. Our team another F/A-18C that was made combat ready to replace it.


I think that's going to be the biggest advantage... scale. With 2500+ aircraft worldwide, and a production run expected to run into three decades, there will be greater impetus for component manufacturers to continue parts production. As being part of the global supply network, those components will be available and hopefully delivered within 24 hours.

Moreover there should be better maintenance outcomes. On the one side you should have a vast amount of data for datamining to identify which parts are vulnerable to failure, perhaps prematurely. This might result in a redesign, a new contract let or better preparedness for a problem. On the other hand the onboard diagnostic systems are seen to be a significant improvement over earlier systems, with more sensors that are even more sensitive than earlier systems. Faults can be detected earlier, even before it actually has an effect on the aircraft's performance.

I'm a bit bullish on this area because I've seen this in practice in the civil world. The times I've seen it start to be applied in the military side, its worked fairly well.
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Unread post16 Nov 2012, 22:09

hb_pencil wrote:Right now Canada probably has 20~30% of its CF-18 fleet permanently unavailable because of maintenance. In libya we flew out at least one airframe to serve as a parts mule. A large portion of the maintenance cost is taken up by people fixing parts in the back of a hangar. With ALIS we wouldn't do that work, it would be handed off to the contractor.

In the US Navy, if a jet stays on the ground more than 90 days, the CSG Admiral gets officially notified. There is a tendency to try to maintain as many jets as "operational" as possible, at least on paper. Even if allowing one jet to be a parts mule saves money, it still looks bad.

From what I understood, some of the CF-18 unavailble, could be made operational but it would cost several million each to make them available, and there isn't the budget to do that. It costs about $3m to do a overhaul/center barrel replacement. A wing-set is about $2-4m for complete structural/skin replacement.
hb_pencil wrote:Moreover there should be better maintenance outcomes. On the one side you should have a vast amount of data for datamining to identify which parts are vulnerable to failure, perhaps prematurely. This might result in a redesign, a new contract let or better preparedness for a problem. On the other hand the onboard diagnostic systems are seen to be a significant improvement over earlier systems, with more sensors that are even more sensitive than earlier systems. Faults can be detected earlier, even before it actually has an effect on the aircraft's performance.

They should be deciding based on component cost vs probability of failure, and cost of labor to repair on the line vs replacement during phase maintenance.

Computer diagnostics saves maintenance time, and it has gotten better with each successive new jet. (eg. F-16A -> F-16C -> F-22 -> F-35). The diagnostics is especially apparent with the F414 improved diagnostics over earlier F404 engines. I can remember a few low-time F414 engine module swaps, where if the engine failed in flight, it would have cost $4m to replace the engine.
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