For fiscal 2021, the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel advises funding 60 Air Force F-35A Lightning fighters by Lockheed Martin [LMT], 12 aircraft and nearly $1.2 billion above the Air Force budget request.

The subcommittee noted in its report on the bill that the Pentagon has received $394 million for the Automatic Logistics Information System (ALIS) for the three F-35 variants through this fiscal year and that the DoD request for ALIS is $59.4 million in fiscal 2021, about $17.5 million more than in fiscal 2020.

The panel said that in its report on the fiscal 2021 bill that it is concerned by a lack of trustworthy data in ALIS and a high number of deficiency reports and that the panel is acceding to the Pentagon’s $59.4 million request for ALIS in fiscal 2021 “only because there is little choice but to sustain the F–35 enterprise with the existing ALIS until the department determines a clear path to transitioning to a new system.”

“Although ALIS is an integral part of the F–35 weapon system, the evidence to date indicates the initial design and implementation of ALIS has failed to meet its intended purpose,” the report said. “Rather than facilitating the maintenance and readiness of F-35 aircraft, ALIS perversely absorbs additional personnel and time to remedy its common problems and institute workarounds.”

A Government Accountability Office report in March said that DoD had not developed performance metrics and “is unaware of how challenges with ALIS are affecting F-35 fleet-wide readiness.”

Last fall, Lockheed announced plans to deliver an agnostic, cloud-based architecture for ALIS by 2020, in order to more rapidly develop and test upgrades (Defense Daily, Sept. 16, 2019).

In January, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord said that the Pentagon is developing a new cloud-enabled logistics program, the Lockheed Martin Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN).

Air Force Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, the F-35 Program Executive Officer, has said that he expects the first F-35 squadron to move off of ALIS in the fall of next year and all units to transition from ALIS to ODIN by 2022.

The HAC-D panel said that the problems with ALIS are comparable to the Air Force’s difficulties with the Boeing [BA] and Collins Aerospace [RTX] Remote Vision System (RVS) for the KC-46 tanker. The HAC-D panel advises $2.7 billion for 15 Air Force-requested KC-46s, about $143 million less than the request.

Boeing has outlined fixes for RVS in an RVS 2.0 update to be available for delivered KC-46s in the second half of next year and to be available for production line aircraft in late 2023 or early 2024.

“Like the RVS system until recently, the development of the ALIS system has suffered from vague requirements, lack of objective performance measures, a design based on hardware and software that has been overtaken by technological innovation during the program’s prolonged development, over reliance on the assumption that the prime contractor is properly incentivized to deliver a system that meets the needs of the warfighter, and a lack of senior leadership intervention until the problems became too large to ignore,” according to the HAC-D panel’s report on its version of the fiscal 2021 defense appropriations bill.

In addition, the panel said that the Air Force’s plan for ODIN “has not been fully developed,” the report said. “Based on the information provided thus far, it appears that ODIN likely will result in significant de-materialization of the ALIS system by transitioning capabilities currently hosted on individual servers to a cloud-based environment, therefore rendering much of the currently procured equipment unnecessary.”

The HAC-D panel recommends a provision that would require the director of the F-35 Joint Program Office to submit a report that would include “an estimate of the full procurement cost of equipment required to support the legacy ALIS for all aircraft in the program of record, as well as an estimate of the cost savings in equipment procurement that can be derived from the transition to ALIS Next and subsequent transition to ODIN.”