Billion Dollar F-35 Strike Fighter’s AI Could be Hacked

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II strike fighter is currently in development and designed to be the US military’s next major step forward in aircraft technology. There’s already been some criticism regarding the project’s immense cost and claims that the jet has numerous design flaws. Figures suggest the F-35’s cost is around $400 billion. The Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) is an incredibly advanced software package which monitors altitude, enemy tracking, diagnostics and much more. This system alone costs a staggering $16.7 billion although it’s certainly one of the most important aspects on the F-35.

Despite the huge investment, a recent Government Accountability Office report suggests the system is open to vulnerabilities. Apparently, part of the computer code isn’t secure and can be hacked. The report also discussed the difficulty in deploying the system. The ALIS tool is plugged into a jet which sends data to 1,600 pound server racks. Each F-35 requires:

“ server connectivity and the necessary infrastructure to provide power to the system”

Not only that, there’s no alternative backups in case any system failures occur and the report states:

“If either of these fail, it could take the entire F-35 fleet offline,”

This could easily delay the F-35’s deployment for a significant amount of time and it’s an embarrassing situation for the US military. The loopholes really put the aircraft at risk and could have severe consequences. Only time will tell, if the F-35 project is cancelled or the ALIS system improves. I wouldn’t be surprised to see F-35 jets without the software system go into production.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.