For the first time, Lockheed Martin F-35s have been loaded with Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN) hardware, an initial step in replacing the stealth fighter’s troubled support system.

A squadron of F-35Bs based at US Marine Corps (USMC) Air Station Yuma in Arizona received the new system on 29 September, the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) announced on 9 October. The USMC flew one F-35B with the new ODIN hardware later the same day. The following day four additional flights were undertaken with the hardware aboard.

F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 based out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma Ariz. performs a short takeoff

Source: US Marine Corps

F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 based out of MCAS Yuma in Arizona performs a short take-off

ODIN is to replace the F-35’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), which manages prognostics, maintenance, supply chain, flight operations and training for the aircraft. ODIN is not expected to reach full operational capability until December 2022.

ALIS had become notorious for problems. In January, the US Government Accountability Office said in a report that the system had 4,700 open deficiencies. Those issues included inaccurate or missing data, challenges deploying the system, a need for more personnel than anticipated, an inefficient issue resolution process, poor user experience, immature applications and ineffective training, the report said.

F-35Bs with ODIN hardware are running the latest example of ALIS software, but are designed to host future ODIN applications. ODIN is a cloud-based system designed to be more user friendly.

“Performance testing of ODIN showed a reduction in the administrative workload and significantly reduced processing times compared to fielded ALIS servers – greater than a 50% decrease – reducing the maintainers’ workload by making system interactions quicker,” says the JPO. It believes the system will be easier to update with new capabilities and help increase the F-35’s mission capability rate.

“Different from ALIS, ODIN is an F-35 Joint Program Office-led effort leveraging government and industry partners such as Kessel Run, the 309th Software Engineering Group, Naval Information Warfare Center, Lockheed Martin, and Pratt and Whitney,” says US Air Force Lieutenant General Eric Fick, F-35 programme executive officer. “ODIN will leverage the agile software development and delivery practices piloted by Kessel Run and investments by Lockheed Martin to better posture our F-35 fleet to increase and maintain a high readiness rate in order to meet its operational requirements.”

Because the ground-based part of ODIN fits within two transportable cases about the size of carry-on luggage – instead of ALIS’s rack of electronics and back-up power modules – the JPO says it can be more-easily moved. ODIN weighs 32kg (70lb), compared to 363kg for ALIS.