While the U.S. Air Force’s fiscal 2023 and 2024 budget requests said that fielding of Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN) software for the Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35 fighter would begin in the third quarter of this year and end in the first quarter of 2025, first fielding of the software is now slated for 2025.

The F-35 program wants to field ODIN–a cloud-based, government-owned logistics software system–to replace the more than two decade-old Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS).

Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) did not reveal the reasons behind the delay in ODIN software fielding.

On Apr. 19, Lockheed Martin emailed a response and on Apr. 21 the F-35 program issued a nearly identical response.

“The F-35 JPO is pursuing our multi-year strategy to address the most pressing ALIS hardware and software challenges while simultaneously evolving to ODIN,” the F-35 program said in its response. “A key to this strategy is delivering incremental value as we mature capabilities. Elements of ODIN have been fielded today, such as virtualized software to run on ODIN hardware. We are continuing to build on that with foundational infrastructure elements as well as data archive and retrieval functionality in 2023. Fielding these software capabilities will improve unit hardware performance, provide easier data access, and enable enhanced fleet analytics.”

“We anticipate the full transition to a modern software architecture will begin fielding to F-35 squadrons in 2025,” the JPO said. “We will continuously develop software, infrastructure, data, and hardware capabilities to stay aligned with the air vehicle and continue to address the services’ priorities, within available resources.”

ALIS features include aircraft scheduling, training delivery, record keeping, technical data delivery, supply chain management, maintenance management, pilot and maintenance debriefing, and mission planning. “ODIN will substantially decrease F-35 administrator and maintainer workload, increase readiness rates for all F-35 variants, and allow software engineers to rapidly develop and deploy updates in response to changing warfighter requirements and improve data management, quality, and integrity,” per the Air Force.

Between July 2021 and January last year, 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 program said last year (Defense Daily, Jan. 31, 2022).

The OBK installations replaced the ALIS Standard Operating Unit-Unclassified server. The OBKs at the 12 locations completed “the initial phase of ODIN hardware rollout, replacing all first-generation unclassified ALIS servers in the field,” the JPO has said.

Last month, Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Schmidt, the F-35 program executive officer, said that the program had fielded OBK to 16 sites last year and plans to begin fielding the classified ODIN and mission planning hardware this year.

“In 2022, we fielded two more ALIS software releases which addressed users’ top requirements and strengthened our cybersecurity posture,” according to Schmidt’s prepared testimony to the House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air and land forces panel on March 29. “One of those software releases included changes necessary to support air vehicle TR-3  [Technology Refresh-3] flight testing and fielding. We also began the development of the final ALIS software release, in accordance with our cybersecurity risk burndown plan, which updates several commercial software components that have reached end-of-life and are no longer supported by vendors. In parallel, we began work on the ODIN foundational software elements that will enable future application modernization and will continue development throughout 2023. We also began the modernization of select applications that were incompatible with the future architecture.”

While ALIS has 891 pounds of hardware, ODIN is to have just 50 pounds of hardware, and the JPO said that the procurement cost for the OBK hardware was 30 percent lower than for ALIS. The JPO has said that OBK is designed to run ALIS software and future ODIN software applications.

Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly, the commander of Air Combat Command, has said that the significantly reduced logistics tail for ODIN is likely to decrease F-35 sustainment costs (Defense Daily, Feb. 26, 2021).

“One of the main things that’s of benefit…is a reduction in contractors that we need to support ODIN, as compared to ALIS,” Kelly said in 2021. “When we deploy forward to anywhere around the globe, right now we have to take a handful of ALIS contractors that can help us work through the very complex system. ODIN requires less of those contractors. That not only makes us more affordable as far as a system, but it makes us more deployable. I’m looking forward to getting ODIN on time just as soon as we can and hoping that there’s no delays to getting to it.”

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.

Government Accountability Office (GAO) report last August said that it was unclear when ODIN would become operational (Defense Daily, Aug. 22, 2022).

The Air Force said in its fiscal 2024 budget request that plans for fiscal 2024 were to complete “ALIS to ODIN software containerization efforts and development of foundational infrastructure for software and data modernization to increase user capability. ”

In addition, the Air Force said that its fiscal 2024 goals were to “continue development of the Linux platform and ODIN data architecture; finalize current generation hardware update, continue analysis of alternatives on next-generation hardware tech insertion supporting ODIN development and test plan as well as capability requirements that are not currently encompassed in the baseline equipment; optimize the ODIN cloud-based infrastructure while continuing migration and modernization of the ODIN enterprise; leverage the establishment of modern software architecture from Unclassified development efforts to develop and release the Classified portion of the F-35 Maintenance Systems ODIN enterprise; [and] develop and deploy improved capabilities to replace legacy applications.”

Last year, Air Force Col. David “Ajax” Berkland, commander of the 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson AFB, Alaska, asked for industry’s help in ensuring that F-35s could get required maintenance in sparse locations when squadrons are unable to connect to ALIS (Defense Daily, Aug. 10, 2022).

“We have seen some of that [operating while disconnected from ALIS] as a challenge,” he said last August “We are working through that. It has not been a mission stop, but anything that we could get from industry–certainly from Lockheed Martin–to help us navigate that. That’s really what we’re looking to do in the future–more of that type of austere operating location type operations with ‘hub and spoke’ scenarios. That’s where I see the next challenge is coming down, but thus far reliability has not been an issue for us.”

“Recently, we were at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan,” Berkland said at the time of the 354th Fighter Wing. “We needed a part for one of our F-35s. We are looking at that part there at Iwakuni because the Marines have it, and they’ve got it available. We have to go back through Lockheed and through some degree of bureaucracy to get approval to source that part, which may, or may not, come from Iwakuni though it’s there and available for us…If we could get more flexibility in that arrangement so that we could source that part more flexibly, I think that would be a game changer for us.”

Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan “Voodoo” Worrell, the commander of the 356th Fighter Squadron at Eielson, said that “a lot of the models have gone to the part is ready at the time of need, not as a bench stock” and that having ready parts on the shelf for far flung areas, like Alaska, would benefit F-35 squadrons.