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Marine Maintainers on F-35B Benefits, Challenges

Defense News // April 27, 2016

Almost a year after it was declared operational by the US Marine Corps, the F-35 joint strike fighter remains a polarizing program. Years of cost overruns continue to linger over the perception of the fifth-generation fighter, but more concerning are reports from groups like the Government Accountability Office or DoD Inspector General that raise concerns about the technical capabilities of the plane.

And nothing raises quite as many concerns as the Autonomics Logistics and Information System (ALIS) program. An internal diagnostic system that tracks the health of each part of each plane worldwide, ALIS has been a frequent target for critics of the F-35 program — not without reason, as the system struggled to get off the ground in the early days of the jet, and the system has been the focus of recent delays.

But as the debate about ALIS' viability continues in Washington, those who use ALIS on a regular basis say they are satisfied with how the system has been operating so far.

A group of four Marine maintainers from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, the training hub for the F-35B for both the Corps and the United Kingdom, told reporters during an April 14 visit that ALIS has made their life easier.

Asked what the biggest benefit of ALIS is, one Marine cited the direction it gives a team of maintainers. “Walking you step through step. There’s literally a signoff for every task you do, every action you do,” he said.

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