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USMC finds workaround for cyber vulnerability on F-35 logistics system

The US Marine Corps (USMC) has found a temporary workaround for certain cyber-warfare vulnerabilities to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's (JSF) autonomic logistics information system (ALIS) while a more permanent solution is found.

The ALIS system has both a classified and unclassified node in the same system, says Col Kevin Killea, the USMC's aviation requirements officer. The unclassified part of the system deals with maintenance information, he says. The classified side of the ALIS system deals with mission planning for the pilots who will fly the aircraft.

"When that single system went through its test back last summer, it was not to the point where it needed to be to be fielded," Killea says. "There were gaps, if you will, or weaknesses in that system because you are sharing an unclass and classified system together."

The Department of Defense and Lockheed are working on permanently fixing the problem, Killea says. But in the meantime, the USMC has come up with a temporary fix so that the ALIS can be used operationally at MCAS Yuma, Arizona. "We have an interim authority to operate that system," he says.

The solution was to separate the classified and unclassified systems temporarily, Killea says. "If you imagine it, there is an air gap between the classified side and unclass side right now while we put the final fixes in."

When the fix is installed, the ALIS should work as originally envisioned. Testing is ongoing to make sure the link to Eglin AFB, Florida--which is the ALIS hub for US F-35s-is secure, Killea says. "That authority to connect piece is currently in the works," he says. "We look forward to, ultimately, that system being back together as one unit the way it was designed."

The USMC does not yet have a definitive date as to when it expects the work to be completed.

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