back to article F-35 'sovereign data gateway' will stop US reading pilots' personal data? Yeah right

Lockheed Martin, designers of the super-expensive F-35 fighter jet, is working on a system claimed to reassure foreign customers that the US won't be able to read their pilots' personal data. According to Flight Global, Lockheed Martin is working on a sovereign data gateway (SDG) to reassure F-35 customers that the US won't be …

  1. 0laf Silver badge

    IoT

    A self ordering warplane. What could possibly go wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IoT

      That is the least of your worries.

      An airplane which reports every single bit of data generated by its systems when overflying its own nation territory as well as any of its targets and sends it to the USA.

      Do you want to fight a war with country X? You need to ask a permission first.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: IoT

        That's the real question. It's bad enough that potentially sensitive data gets sent to Texas but I notice there's no mention of potential for data flowing the other way. And some are worried about the passenger's pilot's personal data?

        1. 0laf Silver badge

          Re: IoT

          I can see it now,

          F-35 now with in-app purchases. When the missile is screaming towards you you hit the button and you get a pop up that says, "Do you want to buy flares, chaff or our anti-munitions package 20% off today only?"

          Or you head to intercept your target and up pops - Upgrading to Windows 10

      2. Dr Scrum Master

        Re: IoT

        Do you want to fight a war with country X? You need to ask a permission first.

        Do you want to launch your "independent" nuclear missiles using US components and satellites?

      3. Haefen

        Re: Sovereignty

        "Do you want to fight a war with country X? You need to ask a permission first. "

        Canada is already there, having "integrated" it's military, it's defense, even it's border services Canada has only perceived autonomy when it comes to it's military role, even in it's own land.

        I'm sure the USA would like it if all of it's allies where similarly controlled and dependent on the USA.

        Too bad we didn't have a political system that would let the people decide or even have a say in such matters.

    2. JLV Silver badge

      Re: IoT

      If you look up current F35 unit costs, they are usually quoted as "low rate initial production without engine".

      So, better to think of it as an in-app-purchase-system. Those are always a good deal, no?

      Plus, if the only secret you are quibbling about as a military is your pilots' personal data being looked at, then you've got major need-to-know issues.

    3. james 68

      Re: IoT

      There really is nothing to worry about.

      var lol = prompt("Can you name one system on the aircraft which actually works as intended and for more than 15 minutes at a time?")

      if (answer= Yes) {

      console.log ("kindly share what your smoking, we'd all like some of that.")

      }

      else {

      console.log("This system will be no different, it'll break sloppily and not work. Move along, nothing to see here.")

      }

    4. You aint sin me, roit

      Re: IoT

      "The aircraft itself sends this data to its parent squadron's local ALIS server"

      So no data gone back to the States yet...

      "which in turn transmits it to its owning nation's Central Point of Entry Services Kit (CPESK)."

      Still hasn't gone to the States yet...

      "From there the data is also beamed back to Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas."

      Or maybe not if that "beam" is not enabled.

      As for the F-35 being used for a DDoS attack... I thought that was what it was intended for.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    offline F-35 operations – but only for up to 30 days

    yeah, so do you have a VALID LICENCE to fly this bird?, or did you get this burnt in some chink shop? Remember, flying without a VALID LICENCE is THEFT and it SUPPORTS TERRORISM!!!

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: offline F-35 operations – but only for up to 30 days

      yeah, no danger in THAT reducing battle readiness. "what if the network was DESTROYED in a battle, and you managed to fix the runways, and got some weapons and ammo and fuel ready to go, and NOW you want to get your planes in the air?" nobody thought of THAT situation, now did they?

      Sorta like having a, *cough*, OPERATING SYSTEM that must "phone home" periodically for it to continue operating.

      Now, I'm thinking of Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" again...

      1. Chemist

        Re: offline F-35 operations – but only for up to 30 days

        "Now, I'm thinking of Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" again..."

        Or the effect of the hyperspace relay in "Foundation"

        1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

          Re: offline F-35 operations – but only for up to 30 days

          > Or the effect of the hyperspace relay in "Foundation"

          Or gives a whole new meaning to the term interrupter gear.

          1. Chemist

            Re: offline F-35 operations – but only for up to 30 days

            I don't have have a copy to hand to check but it went something like "But the Religion of Science is ??? and its curses really work ........"

    2. Huey

      Re: offline F-35 operations – but only for up to 30 days

      What's the betting that someone will twig it out.

      It's not starting Fred.

      Oh yea forgot to mention you need to set the date back to 2nd of Feb every few weeks.

    3. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: offline F-35 operations – but only for up to 30 days

      Simply declare war on 24 November. We all know it will be over by Christmas.

      (Of course we won't be able to fly the F35 because the software will expect "November 24".)

  3. kmac499

    Hook up your laptop

    So they're just like my car there's an OBD connector under the dash..

    I'll bet it 'stops working' if the pilot is suspected of a friendly fire incident.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lockheed Martin, designers of the super-expensive F-35 fighter jet, is working on a system claimed to reassure foreign customers that the US won't be able to read their pilots' personal data.

    Hahaha, I must admit that someone over there must have a fairly sarcastic sense of humour.

    Quality. They must have been cracking up when they wrote that press release.

  5. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    "The F-35's ALIS [...] keeps track of a wealth of data about each and every F-35, from the health of the aircraft's flight systems to pilots' flight plans and more. The aircraft itself sends this data to its parent squadron's local ALIS server [...] – which in turn transmits it to its owning nation's Central Point of Entry Services Kit (CPESK). From there the data is also beamed back to Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. The idea of ALIS is that it automatically orders spare parts, reminds maintainers when life-limited components need replacing and gives air forces an overview of their aircraft."

    Nice of them to keep any adversaries in the loop - because one way or another this will be hacked.

    And for what? To automate processes that could probably be performed faster, safer and with a much, much better level of quality, reliability and competence by a couple of seasoned NCOs with a card file index, a fax machine and a telephone.

    1. Ellipsis
      Unhappy

      It doesn’t appear to be an aim of this programme to create something better than what we’ve already got – rather it’s to sustain the Western military industrial complex for as long as possible. Hence the unfathomable complexity, interminable development time, and eye-watering costs…

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "rather it’s to sustain the Western military industrial complex for as long as possible."

        Which may not be very long at all once non-USA governements realise how much it costs to fly and how susceptable the tubby wee thing is to older radar coming at it from behind.

    2. kmac499

      'To automate processes that could probably be performed faster, safer and with a much, much better level of quality, reliability and competence by a couple of seasoned NCOs with a card file index, a fax machine and a telephone.'

      Very true; I'm reminded of the tale in Vulcan 607 (the Falklands Black Buck missions) where the maintainence guys rescued a vital piece of the inflight refuelling plumbing which was being used as an ashtray in a mess.

      But the real reason for the F-35 phoning home to LM is like Apple phones refusing to work with 3rd party repairs. "If I don't say LM on the label I ain't flying anywhere"

    3. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      The "F" is for Freemium (it's all in the click-wrap)

      Welcome! Your new F-35 is free to fly, but on your first flight you must agree to share personal information about you and your use of the plane with Lockheed Martin and its contractors*.

      Basic "free-to-fly" usage includes limited fuel and flight range, and does not include weapons. You can purchase fuel, ammo, and upgrades (such as improved weapons and air-to-air refueling) in our online store.

      The Iran Strike battle map is included free when you confirm your email address. To obtain other maps, or to fly your F-35 in Campaign Mode, you must purchase upgrades from our online store.

      Lockheed Martin Online and USA Battle reserve the right to restrict your use of the F-35, and to terminate your membership at any time.

      * In the event of corporate acquisition or shifting alliances, your information might be transferred to other parties.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The "F" is for Freemium (it's all in the click-wrap)

        > or to fly your F-35 in Campaign Mode

        Is that the one that enables Politician Facial Recognition in the FLIR system?

  6. Paul F

    Hi - You appear to be out of missiles. Would you like to subscribe to Armed Forces Prime? For a mere $99 million (per plane) a year you can have free delivery on qualifying ordinance.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ordnance. As in Survey, or Royal...Factory (as was).

      "ordinance" is a rule, decree or way of doing things

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sure, I'll cancel before the 30 days is out like everyone else.

    3. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Would you like to subscribe to Armed Forces Prime?

      Armed Forces Prime is so much more than just bombs. It also includes unlimited streaming attacks on obscure countries that no one cares about, and unlimited gun camera photo storage in the AFP cloud.

  7. Nik 2

    The system also supports offline F-35 operations – but only for up to 30 days. As we all know, wars of the future will last absolutely no longer than 29 days

    Nerd Point for anyone who can name the last time that fast jets operated from a location without any IT connectivity for longer then 29 days.

    1. thames

      "Nerd Point for anyone who can name the last time that fast jets operated from a location without any IT connectivity for longer then 29 days."

      Any war fought abroad other than the most recent ones?

      And in future it will be "any war fought against anyone other than a few guys running around in flip-flops with AKs". The first things that are going in any future war against a major power will be all of the communications satellites and all of the undersea cables. So sorry, no Internet (or any other net) for you once the shooting starts. Facebook addicts may wish to take note of this also.

      That of course doesn't even address all the operational meta-data which the US will be gathering about your planes, and who they will be passing the intelligence onto - possibly including to your enemy.

      1. Afernie

        "So sorry, no Internet (or any other net) for you once the shooting starts."

        I doubt that very much. Future wars with major power involvement are liable to be localised, goal-orientated and non-nuclear. Why? Because Russian oligarchs really don't want to nuke the foreign boarding schools they send their sprogs to, the Chinese don't want to send their trillion dollar-scale interests in the US up in a mushroom cloud, and the US doesn't want to destroy its Chinese Walmart suppliers.

        Globalisation may be admirably suited to fucking over anyone other than the 1%, but it's also a powerful argument for not destroying the global infrastructure (physical and virtual) on which your nation's economy inter-depends.

        Note: Deranged behaviour from one-party state nutters not withstanding. I'm looking at you North Korea.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          "So sorry, no Internet (or any other net) for you once the shooting starts."

          I doubt that very much.

          Hm. There was no internet available in the Falklands, IIRC. And pretty much still isn't.

          1. Afernie

            "Hm. There was no internet available in the Falklands, IIRC. And pretty much still isn't."

            And? Since when was Argentina a major power at any level? Their air force today bears a distinct resemblance to the one they lost the war with, only with significantly more airframes providing natural reef habitats at the bottom of the South Atlantic.

          2. Nik 2

            Logistics for the RAF Typhoons down there is done electronically. As is engineering support.

        2. Denarius Silver badge
          Meh

          trading partners and war ?

          @afernie. yeah, that worked brilliantly in 1914. Germany's biggest customer was some little island off Europe. United Kingdom or something like that. Much as I am sceptical of Jared Diamond, he has a point that societies do insane things, acting against their own self interest.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        sorry, no Internet (or any other net) for you once the shooting starts. Facebook addicts may wish to take note of this also.

        Bollocks to Facebook. What about us grumble enthusiasts? Without our enthusiastic adoption of the technology, there wouldn't even be a world wide web.

    2. JLV Silver badge

      Nerd Point for anyone who can lookup "EMP".

  8. Ellipsis

    > will partner nations trust the SDG?

    Will they have any choice?

  9. ElectricFox
    Mushroom

    Smart bombs

    We've moved from an age of guided missiles being fired by misguided men to smart bombs being dropped by dumb planes...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "As the global data hub, ALIS is supposed to order parts and schedule training as they are needed, saving operators the burden of managing and back-filling spare inventories. For the system to work, the jet must automatically transmit information after and even during each flight by an F-35 to Lockheed's ALIS hub in Fort Worth, Texas."

    That is quite a stunning design compromise for a fighter aircraft. To save the 'burden' of inventory management the plane will transmit data to Texas while in flight? F-35 project sounds like its the sequel to the 'Pentagon Wars'.

  11. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Black box lost

    The idea of ALIS is that it automatically orders spare parts

    "...and sadly the last transmission we received from the deceased flight lieutenant's aircraft was an order for a replacement starboard wing."

  12. thames

    Someone's been reading too many LM press releases on sales "successes"

    El Reg - "Other nations buying the F-35 include Great Britain, the Netherlands, Australia, Israel, Canada, Norway, South Korea, Denmark, Italy, Japan – and Turkey".

    Canada is buying the F-35? Has Lockheed Martin told the Canadian cabinet or air force about this? Because they've said they're not. Canada backed away from the purchase about four years ago. LM will however be allowed to bid in an open competition (already in progress)) against four other planes.

    Canada is also replacing most of their navy at the same time. The rising costs of ships and planes has meant that one or the other had to give way. The navy was given precedence and a cheaper solution for the planes is required. All the whizzy "n'th generation stealth whatever" makes absolutely no difference whatsoever in the air defence role which the planes are being primarily bought for, so in the end it will come down to price.

    The current defence minister has put a very high priority on replacing the existing planes ASAP, and there's a good chance that LM won't be able to meet the time line for full capability (in the roles which Canada wants) either.

    So for a number of different reasons, LM's chances of winning are not rated very highly. At present though, they have no more right to claim Canada as a customer than Eurofighter, Dassault, Saab, or Boeing do.

    1. A. Coatsworth
      Thumb Up

      Re: Someone's been reading too many LM press releases on sales "successes"

      "cheaper solution required", "air defence role", "replacing the existing planes ASAP"

      ... So, Super Hornets for the gentleman in table 1, it is!

      As usual, Canada sounds like a more sensible country than most

      1. JLV Silver badge

        Re: Someone's been reading too many LM press releases on sales "successes"

        >more sensible country than most

        There was that bit where we bought 4 mothballed subs from a certain country across the Atlantic. One seaman died IIRC when a fire broke out during the ferry over trip. Since then the 4 subs have mostly stayed in dock being fixed from whatever frequently ails them. Rarely at sea.

        And the part where we took 15 yrs to buy replacement sea rescue choppers.

        Plus, our brave and competent soldiers are greatly outnumbered by the MoD civil servants so lotsa tail to the teeth.

        On the other hand, being the first to actually ditch the F35, if it happened, would immediately catapult us to the top of the clever procurement league. And we could spend the windfall on other, more useful and proven, military gear - I'd vote for attack and transport choppers in addition to fighter modernization.

        1. Nik 2

          Re: Someone's been reading too many LM press releases on sales "successes"

          "There was that bit where we bought 4 mothballed subs from a certain country across the Atlantic. One seaman died IIRC when a fire broke out during the ferry over trip. "

          AIUI, this was a result of a failure to RTFM. Specifically the bit that cautions the crew to close all the external doors and windows before submerging.

  13. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "sovereign data gateway"

    Sovereign ?

    I believe Merkel has a good idea of just how important that is to the US Government.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "sovereign data gateway"

      Yeah and the 5 eyes hacked the shit out of the poor Belgiums (allies uh sure I guess). That's what they get for having a large portion of the world's top cryptographers, oh and all the EU stuff too I suppose.

  14. Notas Badoff Silver badge

    Fog of war (put it in the 'cloud' bunker)

    I was given the immediate impression of laziness on the part of Lockheed. It is a terrible lot of trouble to build applications that can be installed at customers' own sites. (That they then could control themselves) All those on-site visits and hassles when things don't work as advertised. Pfft!

    Instead, let's just build a networked centralized system that we (LM) can run for you! Networked applications running somewhere else are all the rage, right? Hey, we can work into the marketing material a 'benefit' that everyone needs - OaaS ! Ownership is such a pain, we'll do it for you, wholesale prices!

    1. james 68

      Re: Fog of war (put it in the 'cloud' bunker)

      Can you imagine how that conversation went at Lockheed?

      "Hey I have a great idea!!! You know how everything runs in the cloud these days? Well.... PLANES!!!! They fly in the clouds, right? So why don't we......."

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    history will show

    Pretty sure future historians will use the F-35 as the milestone for when the US officially completely jumped the shark. One could argue the hysteria after 9/11 as well but the F-35 was the final nail.

    1. Alumoi
      Coat

      Re: history will show

      All this talk about planes reminds me of an old NATO joke: One Soviet tank general ran into another in Paris and asked, “By the way, who won the air war?” (Tom Clancy, Executive Orders)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: history will show

        Or don't bring a meat sack to a high G drone fight.

  16. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Trollface

    I guess the military felt a need to be more "With it"

    Can't have a computerized anything these days without targeted ads.

    "Base this is Condor 4, guns are dry, returning to best."

    "Roger, Condor. We'll keep the light on for you."

    "Base, this is Condor 4 again. Who is Jack's Ammo Emporium on state route 28 outside Abilene, and do they really have the largest selection and lowest prices in the tri-state area?"

  17. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    Oops

    Our country already has two JSF planes delivered. Will Lockheed retrofit SDGs for them?

  18. Chris G Silver badge

    Snow job

    What (potential) customer of LM gives a crap about backdoored 'privacy' when they are still waiting for everything else to work correctly?

    If 'No news is good news' then news like this is a case of " We must say something positive, what can we come up with?"

  19. Herby Silver badge

    ET...

    Phone home??!!

    Somehow I don't believe that there isn't some little data transmitter hidden somewhere that talks to a nice USA Satellite to let everyone know what this bad boy is up to.

    Like continuously sending out GPS coordinates.

    Anyway, I like the OBD-II connector right under the dashboard control panel. Proven technology! Oh, does it flub tests for pollution when plugged in??

  20. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    ALIS?

    Isn't that the name of the master computer inside the hive in Resident Evil?

    1. Swarthy Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: ALIS?

      ALIS? ALIS?

      Who the fuck is ALIS?

      Don't where she's going, or what she's gonna do

      I guess she's got her reasons but I just don't want to know,

      1. Scubaman66

        Re: ALIS?

        Sir, I raise a salutatory glass to you for that.

  21. ma1010 Silver badge
    Terminator

    Next: Warplane As As Service (WAAS)

    The F-35/365 is now available on a WAAS contract for a low annual fee of only $50,000,000! Additional charges may apply, such as fuel, weapons, spares, wear and tear, crash damage, etc.

    <ALERT KLAXON>

    "I'm sorry, Dave, but I can't start the engines since your air force hasn't paid this month's WAAS installment to my builders. To proceed, please insert $4.167 million or the equivalent in Euros into the illuminated slot."

  22. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    Facepalm

    F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)

    Executive Summary Test Planning, Activity, and Assessment

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      IT Angle

      "Executive Summary Test Planning, Activity, and Assessment"

      Holy s**t that summary seems pretty blunt.

      2 missiles and 2 bombs per aircraft in 2015 and the US Lab to generate the flight data loads is behind the foreign sales equivalent (why?)

      I recall the development of the space Shuttle software was split up into many increments as they gradually added new features as more of the flight envelope was tested and more capabilities were added.

      It looks like here they have a few "fat" loads and they are not working out.

    2. Vinyl-Junkie
      FAIL

      Re: F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)

      SO it's pretty much a crock of sh*t then....

  23. Alistair Silver badge
    Coat

    LMcloud

    New bug undocumented feature of the F35.

  24. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    "automatically orders spare parts"

    If that includes printer ink, they might have some really big bills...

    1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      If that includes printer ink, they might have some really big bills..

      Indeed; even defense contractors are embarrassed to charge HP inkjet cartridge prices.

  25. ecofeco Silver badge

    Lockheed Martin, designers of the super-expensive F-35 fighter jet, is working on a system claimed to reassure foreign customers that the US won't be able to read their pilots' personal data.

    That's all I to read.

    Hahahahahahahahahahahhahaha. Yeah. Sure.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its a Joke

    Why would anyone other than US use this plane? Sounds like the start of Skynet!

    1. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: Its a Joke

      Why would anyone other than US use this plane? Sounds like the start of Skynet!

      If Skynet was shit and didn't work

  27. Pat Harkin

    Internet connected ordnance? What a good idea...

    "Based on your recent aerial engagement, Lockheed have some suggestions for other targets you might enjoy. Pilots who shot at Mig-29's also shot at Sukhoi SU-24's, Chengdu J7's and ShengJan F5's. And don't forget our Lockheed Prime subscription service - never run out of ammunition again!"

  28. ShadowDragon8685

    This all sounds like a colossally stupid idea, and I'm a bloody yankee.

    Can we terminate everyone behind the ideas behind the F-35?

    No, I don't mean terminate their employment, I mean line them up against a wall and shoot them for high treason in intentionally crippling the nation's warfighting ability to line their own pockets.

    Let's have more Raptors. Or even Super Hornets. Hell, you know what we really need? A true successor to, or at least a fully-modernized refit of, the A-10 warthog. Chrysler on a crutch, Tomcats would be better than this clusterfucky circlewank, hangar queens that they were, at least when you needed them to FLY, they fucking flew! And as for jump-jets, you know what did that job just fine? Fucking Harriers.

    Trying to get one plane to do the jobs of five just results in one exceedingly generic plane that is a jack of all trades, master of jack shit, and redonkulously overpriced.

  29. CanadianMacFan

    No so secret special ops

    Hope the President remembers to ask for the F-22s to carry out any special ops that they want to deny which involve going into countries that the US isn't involved in combat with. Or at least if they send the F-35s remember that the flight plan is also sent to Texas.

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