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F-35 Micro-Lids bring significant savings to Air Force

Photo shows two F-35 aircraft taking off with mountains in the background.

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- An F-35A Lightning II aircraft flies over the flightline at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Aug. 21, 2017. The F-35 is a multirole fighter jet able to perform missions which traditionally required numerous specialized aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jensen Stidham)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

Having up-to-date software is essential in keeping our nation’s aircraft on the cutting edge. The 402nd Software Engineering Group F-35 element at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, now has five Micro Low-Cost Integrated Development stations.

F-35 aircraft system Micro-LIDS are developer test stations for certain software functionality on the F-35, according to Linda Jean Myers, 578th Software Engineering Squadron Element chief.

Even though the total cost of the five Micro-LIDS was $500,000, each station will bring significant savings to the Air Force in the long term.

“By using these stations, software issues can be detected and corrected in-house before deployment, which saves time and money in rework and flight tests,” Myers said. “Each flight test costs approximately $50,000 dollars per hour and by using the micro-LIDS, we can greatly minimize the flight tests needed for software verification and validation, which results in major savings for the Air Force.”

Software comprises a majority of the F-35 capabilities and sustaining the software is essential in keeping aircraft operational.

“The Department of Defense has a DoD Enterprise Development Security Operations initiative,” said Myers. “Several programs are being stood up within the Air Force to enable existing programs within the government to move to cloud-based development services.”

The benefit of these services is the Continuous Authority to Operate, without the ATO each program would have to be acquired separately.

“DevSecOps is a software development model that enforces cybersecurity functions and policy from the inception of development by incorporating automated software tools and standards,” Myers said. “Establishing an environment for DevSecOps could enable the development of pure software applications to be tested and rapidly deployed to the warfighter.”

An increase in software development would benefit the base.

“The activation of software sustainment for F-35 aircraft will be an impactful effort for Robins Air Force Base requiring many skilled software developers throughout the life cycle of the aircraft,” said Myers. “Organic sustainment of F-35 systems will continue to move the technical capabilities of Robins personnel while providing the Air Force with not only cost savings but increased capabilities for the warfighters.”