The U.S. military is replacing the F-35 stealth fighter’s unreliable centralized maintenance system with … a different centralized maintenance system. One that could be simpler to use.
Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s top weapons-buyer, on Jan. 14, 2020 said the military would replace the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, with the less-complex Operational Data Integrated Network, or ODIN.
Maryland-based Lockheed Martin, the lead contractor on the trillion-dollar F-35 program, develops both ALIS and ODIN.
ALIS was projected to cost around $17 billion. Lord told Reuters that ODIN would fall under the same contract authority as ALIS did and would cost no more than the older system would have.
Problems with the automated logistics systems have vexed the F-35 program even as the airplane itself slowly has become cheaper to operate.
Between 2018 and 2019, the cost of flying an F-35 for one hour dropped by nine percent to $44,000, F-35 program executive officer Lt. Gen. Eric Fick told lawmakers.
The Pentagon by 2025 hopes to drive down the plane’s hourly operating cost to $25,000, which is around as much as a much older F-16 costs to fly, according to Air Force Magazine reporter Rachel Cohen.
But problems with ALIS have hindered the military’s efforts to stabilize and drive down costs while also improving the F-35’s readiness.
Lockheed since the early 2000s has delivered more than 400 F-35s to the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines Corps against a total Pentagon requirement for around 2,300 of the single-engine planes. The F-35 is on track to replace many of the military’s older fighters including F-16s, F/A-18s and AV-8Bs. Many U.S. allies also are buying F-35s.
American F-35s began flying combat missions in 2018.