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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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By cochy on 2/26/2007 11:16:45 AM , Rating: 2
Weird story.

12-15 hours from Hawaii to Japan? Are these things supersonic or hot air balloons? Shouldn't take more than a few hours for even a commercial airliner to cross that distance, considering it takes about 15 hours to get from Toronto to Hong Kong.

RE: Hmmmmm
By TomZ on 2/26/2007 11:40:41 AM , Rating: 2
Hawaii to Japan is 3850 miles - do the math - there's no way it's a "few hours."

RE: Hmmmmm
By cochy on 2/26/2007 11:50:35 AM , Rating: 2
Well like I said, Toronto Hong Kong is 15 hours and that's 7800 miles. Plus I'm assuming these planes move a tad faster than an Airbus. Though I did underestimate the distance from Hawaii, I always forget that it's as far south as it is.

RE: Hmmmmm
By Brassbullet on 2/26/2007 2:28:29 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, they were flying with their tanker, either a KC-135 (B707) or a KC-10 (DC-10).

Generally military aircraft do not fly at the altiudes that commercial aircraft fly at, and fighter jets are especially inefficent flying at those altitudes.

I would expect that the flight group was around 20-30k and moving slower than would a JAL 747 going the same route.

RE: Hmmmmm
By yacoub on 2/26/2007 1:20:46 PM , Rating: 2
So.... 8-10 hours?

RE: Hmmmmm
By Triring on 2/26/2007 9:35:21 PM , Rating: 2
They took off from Kadena in Okinawa right next to Taiwan.
It's a three hour flight from Tokyo.
The Tokyo-Honolulu flight takes about 8-10 hours depending on which way you are heading affected by the jet stream.
So twelve hours in sub-sonic flight exercising refuel maneuvers doesn't seem that outrageous.

RE: Hmmmmm
By MrTeal on 2/26/2007 2:14:37 PM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind they were flying with their tankers. The F-22A can supercruise, but I think the Stratotanker might have trouble keeping up.

RE: Hmmmmm
By eryco on 2/26/2007 3:41:43 PM , Rating: 4
They should have left the fuel lines attached so the F22s could have towed the StratoTanker into supercruise...

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