As the Marine F-35B joint strike fighter completes final operational testing, including bomb runs and shipboard landings, a lesser publicized piece of the program critical to keeping the jet short-takeoff, vertical-landing fighters in the air recently received its last required upgrade before the aircraft can be certified as ready for war.

Affectionately known as ALIS, the Autonomic Logistics Information System used by Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, serves as the information hub infrastructure for the F-35, transmitting aircraft health and maintenance needs directly to action information to the appropriate maintainers, said Gunnery Sgt. Brian Erline, the VMFA-121 aviation logistics information management systems chief.

The high-tech software allows In short, Ppilots use the high-tech system to create a mission profile on a hard drive that they load onto their aircraft before taking flight. The hard drive tracks flight data and flags required maintenance, and lets ground crews know telling maintainers when parts are nearing their life span and and flagging those that need to be changed.

The new upgrades also allow supply and sustainment crews to get those alerts, so maintainers get the parts they need to fix the aircraft, Erline said.

ALIS is "a single management tool to support all F-35 operations," he said.

Along with software upgrades, new hardware for ALIS also got it ’s ready for the field. It was previously rigged on standard server racks like those found in office buildings. Its rugged new cases make it more portable, allowing for it to be easily moved on and off aircraft carriers or deployed to remove bases, Erline said.  

The Marine Corps is expected to continue upgrading the logistics information system over the next two years throughout the next phase of the F-35 program testing.

"With more than two years left to go in the development phase of the program, capabilities continue to be added to ALIS," said Erline in a Marine news release. "However, the Marine Corps has everything it needs today in terms of functionality to have an initial operating capability."