Now a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identifies a new ALIS-related concern — that if a single ALIS server were to go down, whether from loss of electricity or sabotage, it could cripple the entire F-35 fleet.
“Users are concerned that ALIS’ current design results in all F-35 data produced across the fleet to be routed up to the Central Point of Entry and then to the Autonomic Logistics Operating Unit, with no backup system or redundancy,” according to the April GAO report. “If either of these fail, it could take the entire F-35 fleet offline.”
The report itself identifies further problems including,
• Action Request process is inefficient and problematic: Maintainers at four of the five sites we visited told us that the current Action Request28 (AR) process does not allow for the effective reporting and resolution of F-35 aircraft and ALIS issues. Personnel use an application within ALIS to submit an AR about any F-35 problems, including those with ALIS itself, to the contractor for triaging and ultimate resolution.29 However, these maintainers explained that the process is too heavily controlled by the contractor and that users lack visibility of ARs submitted from other F-35 sites or squadrons. Consequently, ALIS users have to wait for the contractor to conclude that multiple sites are experiencing a similar issue, instead of being able to identify common issues across sites and obtain timely solutions. In addition, maintainers at three sites and administrators at one site reported that recent ALIS software upgrades have resulted in the contractor not receiving ARs, with users unaware of this problem until they followed up on the ARs’ status. DOD officials told us they are aware of the issues surrounding the AR process and are collecting information on the types of ARs submitted from all sites. They stated that the largest types of ARs are related to data quality.
• ALIS has data accuracy and accessibility issues: ALIS users at all five sites we visited are concerned with data accuracy issues within the system, including missing or inaccurate data and inaccessibility of raw data within ALIS. Specifically, maintainers frequently have to resolve error messages for parts linked to electronic equipment logs that contain missing or inaccurate data when they try to fix a problem on the aircraft. Maintainers at two sites stated that recurring issues with electronic equipment logs have caused them to spend significant time resolving these issues instead of tending to other aircraft issues. Additionally, they stated that parts requiring scheduled maintenance are not being tracked or updated accurately in ALIS. Program officials stated that these are life-limited parts that must be replaced by a certain time frame to avoid safety risks to the aircraft. To mitigate this issue, maintainers are currently logging this information outside of ALIS. Maintainers at Eglin Air Force Base said that they are spending 13 hours on average every day to track this information. Finally, maintainers at three sites stated they would like the ability to access raw data in ALIS to produce service-related reports. DOD officials stated that ALIS was designed to be used across services and, as such, reporting tools are not necessarily service-specific. However, ALIS users that operate the system daily continue to have issues with accessing the data required to keep aircraft mission-capable and generating service-specific reports for their squadrons.
All of this from a jet that is going to cost $200-$400 million per plane.