The U.S. Air Force Sustainment Center at Hill AFB, Utah plans to contract with BAE Systems for the repair of components for the F-16 Viper Memory Loader Verifier (MLV) interim adapter (IA).

Those parts help provide flight line loading and diagnostic testing of avionics systems and their software carried on the Lockheed Martin [LMT] fighter.

“The government does not possess or have the rights to the OEM’s [original equipment manufacturer] intellectual property which consists of the complete technical package needed to repair these end items,” the sustainment center said last June in a Justification and Approval (J&A) for a sole-source award to BAE Systems. “The government has requested to purchase the OEM’s Intellectual Property, and BAE has refused. Reverse engineering would be required by any potential source to develop a repair process. It has been determined that reverse engineering the complete data package is not economically feasible. The government will continue to request the data package and the rights to the data necessary to repair these end items from the OEM during the period of performance.”

The contract to BAE Systems is to be three years with two one-year options.

“Reverse engineering the VIPER IA tester to establish repair technical data to be used at an organic repair depot or by competitive commercial repair sources would result in very limited success due to OEM proprietary firmware, software, source code, drivers, and embedded code developed and installed on the VIPER IA system,” per the sustainment center. “The source code for the firmware
was not provided by the OEM and reverse engineering firmware cannot be achieved with any measure in accuracy. BAE Systems, Inc. has returned no-bids as a result of rough order of magnitude (ROM) requests for technical data including firmware or firmware source code.”

The Air Force has been developing a Common Aircraft Portable Reprogramming Equipment (CAPRE) Secure Memory Loader Verifier (SMLV) to improve cybersecurity.

“Warner-Robins [Air Logistics Complex, Ga.] has stated they are one year away from fielding a CAPRE version that will replace the VIPER [MLV] with an organically-developed test set with unlimited data rights,” the sustainment center said in June. “The modified CAPRE is estimated to take 3 years total to work through any ‘bugs,’ which is why this contract is a 3-year base with 2 one-year options (to account for schedule slip risk management).”

“The Viper MLV interface adapter is currently not a candidate for organic repair due to the U.S. government’s lack of data rights sufficient for organic repair stand-up, and inability to purchase it from the OEM,” according to the J&A. “Cost to reverse-engineer Tester IA not cost/time effective with pending organic replacement tester INW [in-work] at Robins AFB (deliveries to begin 2024 and fully fielded by 2026), given the over-30-year break-even point for reverse engineering.”

BAE Systems said last October that it had released a new F-16 MLV II with an open system architecture to provide ready updates and enhance F-16 protection from cyber attacks (Defense Daily, Oct. 12, 2022).

BAE Systems said at the time that two countries had ordered six Viper MLV IIs for F-16 Block 70/72s under Foreign Military Sales and that those countries may order 15 more Viper MLV IIs.

BAE Systems is to build the Viper MLV II in Fort Worth, Texas.