The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) intends to award BAE Systems a £20 million contract to assess software developed by fellow defence prime Lockheed Martin for a cutting edge distributed network supporting F-35 Lightning II fighter jet telemetry and other intelligence, before plugging it into British networks.
The MOD says it will award the contract to BAE Systems without a call for competition because Lockheed Martin “will only share in depth software details with BAES due to their position within the program…”
The programme in question is Lockheed Martin’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS).
Living next door to ALIS…
ALIS is the information infrastructure for the F-35 Lightning II jet, “transmitting aircraft health and maintenance action information to the appropriate users on a globally-distributed network,” according to Lockheed Martin.
“ALIS integrates… capabilities including operations, maintenance, prognostics, supply chain, customer support services, training and technical data. A single, secure information environment provides users with up-to-date information on any of these areas using web-enabled applications on a distributed network” it adds.
‘K then. What’s the job?
But MOD wants ALIS software tested before it lets it be “hosted on UK Networks and Platforms” according to an April 3 contract notice, which says that this will involve “the running of software trials and developing report to provide the Authority with safety assurance on the ALIS software developed under the Program.”
“BAES possesses accreditation from LM and the US Government to confirm that it is cleared to access the software. To conduct the level of assurance the Authority [Ministry of Defence] requires an independent organisation needs to have in-depth access to the software. Significant additional risk would be carried in the operation of the Lightning without this level of assurance in the software that can be provided by BAES.
“BAES have a RTE [representative test environment] in which this software can be integrated with Lightning hardware and software to provide further assurance on the new ALIS software. Therefore, no other economic operate [sic] would be able to meet the Authority’s requirement” MOD said on Monday April 3, 2023.
The F-35 Lighting II is more than just a little ol’ aeroplane. It is, the programme’s leaders say, a “key net-enabling node in a system of systems” that is equipped with a colossal array of sensors that allow it to deliver what Lockheed Martin describes as “advanced sensor fusion [that] creates a single integrated picture of the battlefield." (A recent interesting overview of its capabilities is here...)