Risks seen with Lockheed's F-35 fighter logistics system

Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:15pm EDT
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By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A failure in the computer-based logistics system that serves as the "brains" of Lockheed Martin Corp's (LMT.N: Quote) F-35 fighter jet could potentially ground the fleet because it lacks a back-up for processing data, according to a congressional report.

The Government Accountability Office, the research arm of Congress, on Thursday released two reports on the $379 billion F-35 program, including one on the jet's $16.7 billion Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS.

The second report, on the overall health of the Pentagon's biggest weapons program, said acquisition costs had decreased since 2014 and manufacturing efficiency was improving, but the program still faces difficult software testing and big affordability challenges in coming years.

ALIS supports everything from the plane's operations, pilot scheduling, mission planning and supply chain management to maintenance, making it one of the three major components of the jet, along with the airframe and engine.

The Pentagon's F-35 program manager, Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, has repeatedly cited concerns about ALIS, which is so large it could be a separate arms program.

However, earlier this year, Bogdan told reporters that the F-35 jets could operate for a month or more without being connected to the ALIS system.

The GAO report recommended the Pentagon develop a holistic plan to address myriad issues with ALIS to ensure that the most pressing problems are resolved before the start of full production, instead of dealing with issues on a piecemeal basis.

It also cited a Pentagon-commissioned study from 2013 that found any delays or problems with ALIS could drive the cost of the overall F-35 program up by $20 billion to $100 billion.   Continued...

F-35 Bravo Lightning II stand ready on the deck of amphibious assault ship USS Wasp for day two of the first phase operational testing in the Atlantic Ocean in this handout photo taken May 19, 2015 and provided by the U.S. Navy. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Chief Mass Communication Specialist Willam Tonacchio/Handout via Reuters