The F-35A's highly complex information system achieves first Australian Cybersecurity Accreditation

The Australian F-35A Lightning II Program has achieved another big milestone with the F-35A’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) achieving its first Cybersecurity Accreditation from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the Defence Chief Information Officer Group (CIOG).

The Head of JSF Division, Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Leigh Gordon, explained the significance of the achievement for the Australian F-35A Program.

“A Cybersecurity Accreditation confirms that ALIS has sufficient protection measures in place to counter external and internal cybersecurity threats,” AVM Gordon said.

“For the Australian F-35A Program, this accreditation authorises the F-35 support system, known as ALIS, to be operated in Australia and be connected to existing Defence networks,” he said.  

AVM Gordon said ALIS is a highly integrated information system that has been designed to support all aspects of the
F-35 life cycle.

“ALIS will be used by the Australian F-35A community to manage maintenance and sustainment tasks, perform pre-flight mission planning and support post mission analysis.”

“The system has been designed in concert with the F-35 to ensure it can meet the information demands of a complex fifth generation fighter jet,”

To manage and sustain the highly complex F-35 information environment, the Australian F-35A Program has built a dedicated information systems centre, the Off-Board Information Systems Centre (OBISC) at RAAF Base Williamtown. The facility is unique to Australia and offers an edge over other F-35 Partner nations.

“The OBISC provides Australia with an environment in which we can simulate the F-35 information system to test its true capability, much like an aircraft simulator,” AVM Gordon said.

“The value of the OBISC continues to increase as we identify more and more novel ways to use it.”

“The benefits that the OBISC offers Australia have been equally recognised by international F-35 Partners, many of whom have expressed an interest in using or developing a similar capability.”

Australian JSF Information Systems Security Engineer Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Shaun Reece played a critical role in achieving the Cybersecurity Accreditation for ALIS, ,and said that he and his team are proud to be a part of the F-35 Program.

“It is personally and professionally rewarding to be part of the team that achieved the first Cybersecurity Accreditation for the Australian F-35A Program,” FLTLT Reece said.

“The team has spent countless hours behind the scenes examining technical system designs and evaluating them against Australian requirements in order to justify why the system should be granted an accreditation.”

“The capability that the F-35A and ALIS will provide Air Force is unparalleled to any aircraft and information system we use today. Being a part of the extended information systems team that will introduce this capability into Australia is a privilege,” he said.

AVM Gordon said the achievement could not have been possible without the continued support from Defence’s CIOG.

“Several CIOG staff embedded within the JSF Integrated Project Team worked with us to make this happen,” AVM Gordon said.

“We look forward to building on the great relationship we already have with CIOG as we move closer to declaring Initial Operating Capability in late 2020.”

System accreditation is not an end-state and many challenges lie ahead as the project moves into sustainment, however the Australian F-35A team is well equipped to ensure the F-35A capability is appropriately protected as the system design evolves and new cybersecurity threats are identified.

The OBISC is expected to become operational from early 2017.