The Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35 fighter is to begin operating a cloud-based, government-owned logistics software system next year.
The F-35 program “is implementing a new strategy to replace the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) with [ODIN], a modern F-35 logistics and maintenance system,” per the Air Force fiscal 2023 budget justification. “Hardware being procured is compatible with both ALIS and ODIN software. ODIN software fielding to the squadrons is planned to commence in 2023.”
Between last July and January 2022, the F-35 program and Lockheed Martin fielded the first 14 sets of new, unclassified logistics information hardware, the ODIN base kit (OBK), for F-35 operational squadrons, the F-35 Joint Program Office has said (Defense Daily, Jan. 31).
The installations replaced the more than two decade-old ALIS Standard Operating Unit-Unclassified (SOU-U) server. The OBKs at the 12 locations complete “the initial phase of ODIN hardware rollout, replacing all first-generation unclassified ALIS servers in the field,” the JPO said.
The F-35 program’s use of the cloud-based ODIN may save funds, as the program looks to reduce sustainment costs and cost-per-flying hour (Defense Daily, Oct. 6, 2021).
While Lockheed Martin has owned ALIS data rights, the F-35 program has said that the federal government will have the data rights to ODIN.
The Air Force requested $3.9 billion for 33 F-35As in fiscal 2023–15 aircraft and $700 million less than provided in fiscal 2022 (Defense Daily, March 28).
Top Air Force officials have said that the service’s fiscal 2023 budget prioritizes moving Block 4 modernization of the F-35 forward over procurement quantities.
Yet, the Air Force’s fiscal 2023 budget request for Block 4 for the air vehicle, propulsion system, combat data systems, maintenance systems and training systems appears to contain roughly the same amount of funding for Block 4 as last year. For example, Congress provided $324 million for Block 4 planning and systems engineering for the air vehicle in fiscal 2022 and requested $390 million in fiscal 2023.
The fiscal 2023 Air Force budget justification said that the $66 million requested increase in fiscal 2022 for air vehicle Block 4″ is due to award of additional Block 4 scope to include the design, development, and integration of several advanced electronic warfare hardware elements enabling F-35 wideband spectrum dominance.”
“Also, the addition of the scope to support advanced F-35 datalink enables increased lethality in support of integrated fires and beyond line-of-sight Anti-access/Area denial (A2/AD) arenas expected in a near peer conflict,” the Air Force said “Additionally, the increase reflects integration of advanced weapons functions including AARGM-ER, AGM-158, increased air-to-air missile carriage, and net enabled weapon functionality.”
Northrop Grumman [NOC] builds the AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER), while Lockheed Martin makes the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile.
Begun in 2018, Continuous Capability Development and Delivery (C2D) for the F-35 envisions software updates for the fighter every six months and has included the development of Block 4, Technology Refresh-3 to permit the Block 4 advancements and making F-35s capable of carrying conventional and nuclear ordnance. Cost estimates for C2D2, which the F-35 program is to pursue through fiscal 2025, have varied from $7 billion to more than $10 billion.
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has said that the service still plans to buy 1,763 F-35As–a number that the service is unlikely to come close to reaching in the next decade. While the Air Force has said that the F-35 program’s air-to-air testing performance has been stellar, the program has struggled with technology delays and high operations and maintenance costs–a feature that Kendall has pledged to reduce department-wide in order, in part by retiring old iron, to field cutting edge technologies quickly.
The F-35 program continues to negotiate with Lockheed Martin on an award for the Lot 15-17 buy. The program has said that the advanced technologies of F-35 Block 4 are to be fitted onto the F-35s beginning with Lot 15 in the summer of 2023.
The fiscal 2023 Air Force budget justification says that F-35A unit flyaway costs decreased from $114 million, on average, before fiscal 2021, to $87 million in fiscal 2021 and are to fall to $86 million in fiscal 2022, respectively. In fiscal 2023, the F-35A unit flyaway cost is to rise to more than $91 million.