Norwegian defense officials have caught one of their new F-35A Lightning II Block 3F stealth jets sending sensitive data back to its US manufacturer — Lockheed Martin.
Norway is the first non-US user of the F-35 to have a mission-critical software package enabled through the provision of Mission Data Files.
It’s a critical database and software package that is supposed to finally deliver what the advertising videos have been promising for more than a decade: ‘revolutionary situational awareness’.
But it appears that ‘situational awareness’ cuts both ways.
Turns out the US military megacorp is getting detailed telemetry on everything Norwegian pilots are doing delivered to its Fort Worth, Texas, facility
“As the amount of features increases, data is also increasing and the need to protect it,” Norwegian Defense Ministry consultant Lars Gjemble
“In a way, it looks like the challenge of what information your iPhone shares with the manufacturers.”
Put simply, the manufacturer is tracking and assessing the habits of Norwegian pilots.
While privacy is a concern when it comes to personal internet and smartphone use, it’s become a whole different matter when applied to the military.
“Due to national considerations, there is a need for a filter where the user nations can exclude sensitive data from the data stream that is shared by the system with the manufacturer Lockheed Martin,” Gjemble ter.
At the heart of the problem is the F-35’s artificial intelligence dubbed ALIS: it is responsible for logging performance data, as well as monitoring and optimizing the aircraft’s sophisticated equipment.
Norway says it has become impatient with continued delays in the promised provision of a data “filter” by Lockheed Martin. So it’s started its own project to find ways to block its new F-35s from reporting back to their former US masters.
It’s also worried that it won’t be able to optimize — or protect — the extremely sensitive Mission Data Files. These data packs optimize aircraft performance under different conditions, as well as provide a database of regional challenges and conditions.
Again, Norway wants Lockheed Martin out of the loop.
“Norway has entered into a partnership with Italy to jointly finance the procurement and operation of a laboratory where we can enter nationally sensitive data, as we currently do on F-16,” Gjemble said.