For the last 50 years, newer fighters have been sold as requiring less maintenance than their predecessors, due to technical advances. As people like Chuck Spinney and the Congressional Research Service have documented, the reverse has been true.
That decades-long defense death spiral has finally reached a point where it’s prompting musings about the collapse of American TacAir, and European countries with their small and dwindling defense budgets are also strongly affected. If the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter was to have any hope of becoming a commercial and operational success, it needed to change that operating cost dynamic. To do that, Lockheed Martin, BAE, and the international JSF team have turned to embedded HUMS (Health & Usage Monitoring System) diagnostics. Even that probably won’t be enough, absent integration with the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) – which an IEEE paper has described as “perhaps the most advanced and comprehensive set of diagnostic, prognostic, and health management capabilities yet to be applied to an aviation platform.”