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The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin have now delivered the first 14 sets of a new on-board F-35 computing system intended to streamline information processing, perform condition-based maintenance, monitor component performance and integrate otherwise disparate pools of information gathered by sensors on the jet.
Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN)
The system, called Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN), was developed as a follow-on or improvement upgrade to the F-35s well known Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS). ODIN is slated to be fully operational by 2022, a Lockheed statement said.
A statement from the Pentagon’s F-35 office explained that the initial phase of the deployment of the ODIN computer hardware, known as the ODIN Base Kit, has now replaced all first-generation unclassified Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS,
The new ODIN hardware is 75 percent smaller and lighter than previous hardware and was procured at nearly 30 percent lower cost.
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This kind of high-speed, diagnostic computer system performs a number of critical functions. One of those is condition-based maintenance wherein onboard sensors and computers monitor flight systems such as engine rotations or cooling functions. In addition, ODIN will examine the component health of on-board software and hardware throughout the aircraft such as avionics and other electronics.
Part of the concept is to anticipate potential failures well before there is any kind of malfunction to both preserve the safety and survivability of the aircraft and also streamline the repair and maintenance process by getting ahead of the curve. Most of all, a diagnostic or predictive computer system of this kind can mitigate the risk of any kind of in-flight malfunction which could of course introduce substantial performance, functionality and even tactical complications and problems.
An interesting write up from the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office details some of the new computer technologies woven into the ODIN system. While it will perform many of the logistical functions similar to its predecessor ALIS, it will also bring more security and massively increase information processing speeds.
“ODIN’s next-generation computing performance decreases processing times by as much as 50% and provides enhanced system security and administration. Capitalizing on available commercial components, ODIN servers are inherently more serviceable and supportable,” the JPO statement writes.
Given this ODIN is not likely to be restricted to purely maintenance functions but may also play a vital role in aircraft information processing, management, and transmission.
The F-35 is widely regarded as being at the forefront of emerging AI systems, meaning its sensor fusion applications began as mere concepts years ago. Now otherwise disparate pools or streams of information such as targeting, navigational details, threat data, weather conditions, and basic flight trajectory details can all be gathered, analyzed, organized, and presented on a single screen to F-35 pilots.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.