Cognition, Vol. 9, No. 1

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This forced a redesign of the joint that was later incorporated into the manufacturing process. That test aircraft, after this repair and others, went on to complete the full three lifetime tests, and, according to the report, is currently undergoing a complete evaluation to determine what other fixes are needed and whether FAs do indeed have an 8,hour life.

Shockingly, there are no plans to procure a replacement airframe to test the FB to the full three lifetimes required by the contract.

Federal Register :: Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Over People

That means the Marine Corps could potentially have to start retiring the first of its Fs in seven years, and may never acquire any FBs with a verified 8,hour service life. As with the FB, the program office appears to have no plans to procure a replacement test airframe or to complete the required third lifetime of tests. The network is supposed to integrate maintenance diagnosis and scheduling and supply chain management with combat-mission planning and threat analysis.

In fact, ALIS has so many flaws and has experienced so many failures that Lockheed Martin did not even use its version of the system on its manufacturing floor until March The program fielded ALIS version 2. Units in the field reported numerous significant problems with it. Users also complained about the Life-Limited Parts Management tool, saying it consumed a great deal of time and required them to manually work around the system to complete their tasks—exactly the opposite of how the system is supposed to work.


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In the meantime, yet another patched ALIS version, 3. For example, problems with the Deployment Planning Tool and transferring data generated on the aircraft into the ALIS network still have not been corrected. As for most such actions, ALIS is supposed to automate this process. Many of these problems will likely continue indefinitely as the software continues to receive patches on top of patches.

ALIS has gone through at least 27 versions. Each is meant to add functionality and correct deficiencies in earlier iterations. Yet ALIS continues to cause more problems than it solves. The program is planning to release four major ALIS upgrades over the next three years.

Trainer aircraft

The challenge inherent in this is that each version will almost certainly introduce new problems. ALIS has so many flaws and has experienced so many failures that its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, did not even use its version on its own manufacturing floor until March ALIS designers have their work cut out for them solving new problems and those that have endured since early in the development process. First identified in ALIS version 1. Now, taxpayers will pay Lockheed Martin to build the Mad Hatter replacement, while also footing the bill for patch after patch on the original system.

The full range of functionality of the F, particularly its use of stealth, depends on having up-to-date information about enemy ground and air radar signals, missiles, and jammers, as well as similar information about friendly units. Programmers must tailor MDLs for each potential combat theater, because every country employs its own array of radar and weapon systems. These combinations change frequently, so MDLs must be continuously updated, and, accordingly, their accuracy reverified.

Inadequate signal emulators will inevitably lead to inadequate test MDLs—and, far more seriously, will lead to inadequate MDLs for use in real combat, which could put missions and troops at risk. This nomenclature is effectively a smokescreen for evading the onerous milestones, capability definitions, and schedule commitments of a normal development phase for any major weapons program. Taxpayers have already paid for the development phase. They will now be billed again to fix the many lingering problems and complete what the program left undone.

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Testing for cyber vulnerabilities is therefore crucial to any evaluation of the program. The Government Accountability Office released a report in October showing that nearly every software-enabled weapon system tested between and can be hacked, often by simple means like looking up default passwords online for commercially available software.

Cybersecurity testing has long been part of F program evaluation. All Americans should be concerned that we are actually paying extra for weapons that provide the enemy an opportunity to disrupt them. The fully integrated nature of all F systems makes cybersecurity more essential than for any other aircraft. Legacy aircraft already in service are equipped with software-enabled subsystems, and while a hacker could penetrate the GPS system in a legacy system, because the subsystems are not fully integrated, a hacker could not also access the communications system, for example. The F is inherently far more vulnerable.

That means enemy cyber-warriors need only compromise the software of one of these to corrupt the entire system. A incident shows what this could look like. In that case, a software glitch in the main processor wreaked havoc on all of the systems connected to it, including navigation, communications, and fuel indicators, forcing the flight to divert back to Hawaii.

Light-Attack Aircraft

That was just the result of a coding error. It is not difficult to imagine what a hacker with malign intent could accomplish. The transition from developmental to operational testing is a milestone in any weapons program. The program office appears to be planning to complete this phase of testing without making a proper evaluation possible.

Each of these flaws could ground aircraft or force them to abort missions. The operational testing plan also hinges on use of a complex simulation facility capable of reproducing the multi-plane enemy and friendly formations and the dense threat environment inevitable in any war against a near-peer adversary. This is necessary because the available test aircraft and the open-air test ranges in the western United States cannot replicate all the modern threats flights of six or more Fs might face.

Programmers are now attempting to develop accurate, verified and validated F cockpit simulators and ground and airborne threat simulators for pilots to fly virtual multi-ship missions against multiple enemy missile and aircraft defensive arrays, but, according to the report, this has run into serious problems. The necessary data is gathered during flight tests and integrated into the simulation program, which is then supposed to complete a verification and validation process.

On top of that, the basic and essential terrain modeling—familiar to anyone who has used a flight simulator on their home computer—has yet to be finished. Most distressingly, the physical facilities where all of this operates, which are to include cockpits and visuals, and even the buildings themselves, were not even completed by the start of operational testing. Yet it appears that the F program office intends to keep to its current operational testing schedule.

Ensuring the absence of bias in test planning, execution, and reporting is just as important as having adequate resources and managing testing competently. Second, the program office paid Lockheed Martin to analyze F live-fire vulnerability tests and produce the F Vulnerability Assessment Report on whether the aircraft met their contractual specifications and military requirements for pilot survival against four air-defense threat weapons. The Lockheed analysis also concluded, unsurprisingly, that the F met its military requirements to be at least as survivable as the legacy F by managing to return to safe territory after being hit by each of the four threats.

Integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Today, first officers are given the opportunity to upgrade with much less seniority than in the past. This steeper pilot learning curve places additional stress on the current training system. Although remedial training is a valid mitigation tactic, it impacts operations as pilots are removed from line flying to undergo addition training. Emerging training and technology innovations that integrate training data with line performance data can help build such an approach. By providing an instructor with data-driven training insights, the instructor can adapt the training session to be more effective.

We must look for instructors with the right mix of teaching and communication skills to ensure we provide the most effective training. Using technology in aviation training. The demands of dynamic aviation technology and growth.


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Ep. 98: Risk Assessment Matrix - How to calculate flight risk