NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- More than 250 Marines and 10 F-35B Lightning IIs with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, began training operations in exercise Red Flag 17-3, the U.S. Air Force’s premier realistic combat training exercise, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 10.
Throughout the exercise, VMFA-211 will fly two training events each day: one in the afternoon and another in the evening — a training tempo that increases the demand on the squadron’s maintenance section.
To facilitate F-35 maintenance, the aircraft uses the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) — software specifically developed for the F-35.
“ALIS is the software program that basically controls all of the data for the aircraft: inspections, anything installed on the aircraft, any problems that come back from the aircraft going to flight — it’s going to report those instances,” said Staff Sgt. Emma Hale, a maintenance database specialist with VMFA-211. “Everything that it does is supposed to be automatically updated. It’s supposed to be very user friendly.”
According to Hale, a maintenance database specialist with VMFA-211, each aircraft has a portable maintenance device (PMD) which records information about the aircraft and shares it with ALIS.
There are three versions of ALIS and each utilizes a different server: a main server, a detachment server and a deployment server.
According to Gunnery Sgt. Jeremy Powers, VMFA-211’s maintenance control chief, the main server tracks all of the squadron’s aircraft and is the primary server for ALIS; the detachment server acts as a clone of the main server, but contains only the aircraft which detach from the squadron to attend training or other temporary duty assignments — also, once aircraft go from the main server to the detachment server, those aircraft are no longer observable by the main server; lastly, the deployment server is a self-contained server meant for use aboard Navy vessels and air installations but unlike the detachment server, the aircraft remain observable to ALIS’s main server.
During this iteration of Red Flag, the squadron will utilize ALIS’s main server because the bulk of VMFA-211’s aircraft will participate in the training.
“If you fly an aircraft, you’re gonna have to fix it,” said Powers. “This is one of the best teams I’ve worked with at 211 — we do safe maintenance, we do it to the best of our ability, we kick the aircraft out and get it operational. I have no doubt that we’ll make the mission here and operate in Red Flag flawlessly.”