Lockheed Martin Partners with Red Hat to Upgrade Air Force Fighter Jet Fleet

An F-22 Raptor from the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron conducts aerial refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Jan. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

Lockheed Martin worked with Red Hat to adopt agile practices and speed up the delivery of software capabilities in its F-22 Raptor fighter jets used by the U.S. Air Force to better — and faster — meet warfighter needs.

To do so, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics held an eight-week residency in Red Hat Open Innovation Labs to modernize application development. The company replaced its waterfall development process it previously used for the F-22 Raptor upgrades with agile methodologies and DevSecOps.

The companies worked together to create an open architecture based on Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform and onboard that architecture and platform onto the F-22 Raptors. OpenShift, which is powered by Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux, is made for developer productivity and innovation, and addresses security, operations management and integration of applications. This new platform allows the F-22 team to develop applications and reach delivery faster.

So, why was it needed? With the traditional waterfall approach, Lockheed Martin wasn’t getting the capabilities warfighters need to them fast enough — it would take five to seven years to release new capabilities for an architecture built in the early 1990s. That platform, and its code quality, was no longer meeting Lockheed Martin’s expectations.

But because adversaries continue to develop new capabilities and challenge U.S. air forces, rapid innovation is needed — and not just in terms of hardware and software platforms.

“When you have a world-renowned platform like the F-22 Raptor, adversaries are constantly looking for ways to counter it. This means we must constantly add capabilities and improve the F-22. And we must do it faster than ever before,” said Lockheed Martin’s Michael Cawood, vice president of F-16/F-22 product development. “We needed to transform our own organization and how we did things.”

The company wanted to create a team culture around innovation and collaboration to advance its application development processes, so it turned to agile, scrum, DevSecOps and minimum viable product frameworks led by Red Hat Open Innovation Labs. A team of five developers, two operators and a product owner developed the new application on OpenShift.

“By working with the Red Hat Open Innovation Labs team, we changed everything ‒ our toolchain, our process, and most importantly, our culture. With our new culture firmly rooted in DevSecOps and agile, and a more flexible platform based on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, the F-22 team will continue its work to ensure the Raptor meets America’s defense needs,” Cawood added.

The labs also helped Lockheed Martin through the agile transformation process and implement the open source architecture onto the F-22 Raptors. Within six months, the company scaled the OpenShift deployment and agile process to a 100-person F-22 development team.

And the collaboration already has results: The F-22 Raptor scrum team improved its ability to forecast for future sprints by 40%, and by this summer, Lockheed Martin plans to deliver new communications capabilities to the jets three years ahead of schedule.

Plus, with the help of Red Hat Open Innovation Labs, Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor development team is adopting a DevSecOps and agile culture to continue delivering innovative software solutions to the U.S. Air Force.

Related: Red Hat Leaders a Tight-Knit Team

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