Splunk to be backbone for critical F-35 system

Splunk is lending a big hand to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II program thanks to a subcontract that the company won to watch over some of the fighter's most critical systems.

The F-35 Lightning II is a single-seated stealth multirole fighter that Lockheed Martin says is designed to dominate the skies, combining the fifth generation characteristics of radar evading stealth, supersonic speed and agility with a comprehensive sensor package—one that is more powerful than any before it.

But the F-35 would be nothing without the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), comprised of many different monitoring systems and applications, working behind the scenes to make sure the fighter is fully operational.

That’s where Splunk comes in, said Kevin Davis, area vice president, Federal, Splunk. “What Splunk does is watch over ALIS and over all of the different applications that make it up to ensure they are working correctly.”

Initially, the Splunk platform is being used by Lockheed Martin in 25 different operating environments for IT operations and application management, analyzing machine data from the systems and networks supporting ALIS. The company’s platform will make sure that they are communicating with one another well, that there is no lag time, and that the fighter is operating as it should be. But Splunk’s platform goes beyond that.

“We get into the Internet of Things so that we can keep an eye on things like the thermostat and the fuel lines, and then start to do predictive analysis and maintenance by drawing correlations of what’s going on,” Davis said.

“I read out there that for every hour of flight time, there’s 10 hours of maintenance required,” he said. The Splunk platform will lead to shorter maintenance times and will help reduce costs and increase efficiencies while it's at it.

Davis said that the company is excited because it is now embedded in the ALIS program, meaning that as the system rolls out to other countries and customers, Splunk will be a standard within its infrastructure.

But it doesn't stop with Lockheed's F-35 Lightning II program; Splunk is involved in similar programs elsewhere, as well. For example, SAIC has standardized Splunk within its security operations center, and in March 2015, Knowledge Consulting Group won a $29 million task order under the Homeland Security Department’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program and Splunk is one of KCG’s teammates.

The company intends to find more customers in this area going forward, as well.

“We’re in a lot of conversations with [federal systems integrators] regarding managed service providers.” The company is working with some of these larger systems integrators to be the engine behind their managed service to provide things like IT operations and analytics, Davis said.

About the Author

Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.

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