The US Air Force (USAF) maintainers on Hill Air Force Base’s (AFB) flight line have started using a new handheld tablet to work on the F-35A Lightning II multi-role fighter aircraft.

The latest and advanced handheld networked tablets will allow maintainers to update work orders and other information immediately, moving from aircraft to aircraft much more quickly.

Airmen currently use laptops, called Portable Maintenance Aids, to connect to the combat jet’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) on the flight line.

The ALIS solution is used by the USAF to track everything ranging from flight data to aircraft status and supply information.

USAF 388th Maintenance Squadron low observable technician staff sergeant Rio Torres said the laptops are not fast or are not Wi-Fi-enabled and don’t facilitate real-time information sharing.

“If we have an issue with a jet and need to ground abort, a pilot will be able to sign out a spare right on the line and step to that jet.”

The laptops are also heavy and require to be manually updated with tech data and other information.

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388th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment flight commander first lieutenant Eric Dolan said: “If we have an issue with a jet and need to ground abort, a pilot will be able to sign out a spare right on the line and step to that jet. We can do that right on the flight line without having to call the flight ops desk for a backup.”

In future, the 388th Maintenance Group is expected to have approximately 200 handheld tablets.

By the end of next year, the USAF’s Hill AFB will house three operational F-35A fighter squadrons with a total of 78 fighter aircraft.