10 November 2015

Blow Up One Mainframe, and Shut Down the Entire F-35 Fleet

The US military, and Lockheed-Martin have structured the software of the F-35 so that the plane cannot fly without a direct connection to a L-M mainframe:
The unilateral decision by the United States to locate all F-35 software laboratories on its territory, and to manage the operation and sustainment of the global F-35 fleet from its territory, has introduced vulnerabilities that are only beginning to emerge.

The biggest risk is that, since the F-35 cannot operate effectively without permanent data exchanges with its software labs and logistic support computers in the United States, any disruption in the two-way flow of information would compromise its effectiveness.

All F-35 aircraft operating across the world will have to update their mission data files and their Autonomic Logistic Information System (ALIS) profiles before and after every sortie, to ensure that on-board systems are programmed with the latest available operational data and that ALIS is kept permanently informed of each aircraft’s technical status and maintenance requirements. ALIS can, and has, prevented aircraft taking off because of an incomplete data file.

Given that the United States hopes to sell hundreds of F-35s to allies in Europe, Asia and Australia, the volume of data that must travel to and from the United States is gigantic, and any disruption in Internet traffic could cripple air forces as the F-35 cannot operate unless it is logged into, and cleared by, ALIS.

For example, “Mission data load development and testing is a critical path to combat capability,” Pentagon OT&E director Michael Gilmore said in his fiscal 2014 report. “Accuracy of threat identification and location depend on how well the mission data loads are optimized to perform in ambiguous operational environments.”

Updating and uploading mission data loads depends on a functioning Internet, and as Wired.com noted in an Oct. 29 story, “undersea Internet cables are surprisingly vulnerable.” It quoted Nicole Starosielski, a media scholar at New York University, as saying that “people would be surprised to know that there are a little over 200 systems that carry all of the internet traffic across the ocean, and these are by and large concentrated in very few areas. The cables end up getting funneled through these narrow pressure points all around the globe.”


The fear is that an “ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent,” the article said.

Whatever the other repercussions, such an event would severely limit the ability of the world’s F-35 fighters to fly – due to a loss of ALIS link – and to operate effectively, as their fighting ability would disappear if their software and mission data files could not be updated.


Given that the ALIS mainframe is located at Fort Worth, Texas, operating the F-35 will require three very large data conduits to and from these locations, again using Internet cables as the volume of data is too great for satellite transmission.

In fact, if the F-35 performs as advertised, it should gather very argue amounts of tactical data during each mission – data that it will have to transmit to the software labs in the US so they can be used to update the mission data files, adding another large volume data flow in both directions.
They don't need to cut internet cables.  They send some guy in with an explosives vest to the mainframe, and the fleet is grounded.

More important to our foreign "Partners" is that this also means that an F-35 fleet can shut down by Lockheed-Martin over a  billing or maintenance dispute, or by the US over a foreign policy dispute.

This is not a bug, this is a feature, and it is one that almost certainly came from L-M, because it creates a captive customer:  No one can maintain the aircraft without paying a toll to them.

Even if the aircraft performs as promised, the basic concept for its operation is untenable.

Run away from this clusterf%$#.


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