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Six Lockheed F-22 Raptors have Y2K-esque glitch of their own over the Pacific

Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor is the most advanced fighter in the world with its stealth capabilities, advanced radar, state of the art weapons systems and ultra-efficient turbofans which allow the F-22 to "supercruise" at supersonic speeds without an afterburner. The Raptor has gone up against the best that the US Air Force and Navy has to offer taking out F-15s, F-16s and F/A-18 Super Hornets during simulated war games in Alaska. The Raptor-led "Blue Air" team was able to rack up an impressive 241-to-2 kill ratio during the exercise against the "Red Air" threat -- the two kills on the blue team were from the 30-year old F-15 teammates and not the new Raptors.

But while the simulated war games were a somewhat easy feat for the Raptor, something more mundane was able to cripple six aircraft on a 12 to 15 hours flight from Hawaii to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. The U.S. Air Force's mighty Raptor was felled by the International Date Line (IDL).

When the group of Raptors crossed over the IDL, multiple computer systems crashed on the planes. Everything from fuel subsystems, to navigation and partial communications were completely taken offline. Numerous attempts were made to "reboot" the systems to no avail.

Luckily for the Raptors, there were no weather issues that day so visibility was not a problem. Also, the Raptors had their refueling tankers as guide dogs to "carry" them back to safety. "They needed help. Had they gotten separated from their tankers or had the weather been bad, they had no attitude reference. They had no communications or navigation," said Retired Air Force Major General Don Shepperd. "They would have turned around and probably could have found the Hawaiian Islands. But if the weather had been bad on approach, there could have been real trouble.”

"The tankers brought them back to Hawaii. This could have been real serious. It certainly could have been real serious if the weather had been bad," Shepperd continued. "It turned out OK. It was fixed in 48 hours. It was a computer glitch in the millions of lines of code, somebody made an error in a couple lines of the code and everything goes."

Luckily for the pilots behind the controls of the Raptors, they were not involved in a combat situation. Had they been, it could have been a disastrous folly by the U.S. Air Force to have to admit that their aircraft which cost $125+ million USD apiece were knocked out of the sky due to a few lines of computer code. "And luckily this time we found out about it before combat. We got it fixed with tiger teams in about 48 hours and the airplanes were flying again, completed their deployment. But this could have been real serious in combat," said Shepperd.

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<no subject>
By Scabies on 2/26/2007 10:52:11 AM , Rating: 4
Oops. Was windows on the OS dev team?
I kid. Spatial disorientation could have been a HUGE problem. It takes a lot for a pilot to learn to trust their instruments, so when they go out, they can get screwed fast. Spatial disorientation is where the pilot's inner ear (thus overall perception) of planar orientation is skewed. For instance, if a pilot goes through a cloud bank and loses all visual cues as to where the earth is, which way is up and which way is down, they can begin to think that a few degrees rolled to the right or left (or even upside down) is the correct "level," or zero degrees. Then when they pop out and see what is correct... It is enough to cause a crash. This weather point that was reiterated over and over in DailyTech's quotes could have killed these pilots, and I imagine that the general press is fickle enough that it could have killed the F22 project in general.

RE: <no subject>
By Scabies on 2/26/2007 1:29:13 PM , Rating: 3
Jeez, was the windows thing too much for you? Could I get another negative for saying I am a Vista adopter?
Go look up spatial disorientation, and you'll see why having no instruments is really a life threatening situation.

RE: <no subject>
By CascadingDarkness on 3/1/2007 6:27:33 PM , Rating: 2
Good point. Even with clear skies at night can put you in similar situation. Not to much of a stretch to lose track of what's sky and what's ocean during a night maneuver.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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