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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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RE: I don't think so...
By nomagic on 2/26/2007 11:53:26 AM , Rating: 2
"The aircraft experienced a software problem involving the navigation system en route from Hickam to Kadena. For operational security reasons we will not discuss specific aircraft systems or locations," said USAF.

Anything else is speculation. We dont know what actually happened.

RE: I don't think so...
By daniyarm on 2/26/2007 12:17:10 PM , Rating: 2
Planes NAV and other computers are independ of ECUs (engine control unites) and FBW (fly-by-wire) systems. If all other computers shut down you'd still be able to fly the plane. Reason for this is that most ECUs and FBW systems have nothing to do with dates, therefore they would not be troubled by this time issue. Although I'd like to know how they passed FAA and DO-178B certification.

RE: I don't think so...
By ElJefe69 on 2/26/2007 12:22:22 PM , Rating: 2
most of these pilots could fall asleep while flying and actually, fighting. I would assume though that they can actually fly these things manually as well. that isnt the most outrageous idea really.

RE: I don't think so...
By stromgald on 2/26/2007 8:06:22 PM , Rating: 2
It's a fly-by-wire aircraft so manual flying is out of the question. The design is inherently unstable and extremely difficult to fly without computer assistance. Considering the distance they had to cover and the time required, I doubt the FBW system went down for very long, if at all. Those things probably have two or three backups for the FBW system. It's just about impossible for even the best pilots to fly an unstable aircraft for hours without crashing.

I agree with the above poster that more than likely only the NAV system and attitude control instruments went down. In which case, they would've gotten lost and could've been disoriented enough to crash if they tried to fly too low.

RE: I don't think so...
By Triring on 2/26/2007 9:27:16 PM , Rating: 2
It's probably the main chronometer that went down which is hooked up with the GPS which is hooked up with the altimeter and the laser-gyro compass.
Once the clock goes out it can't time the signals of the GPS which gives readings of longitude, latitude and height.
In other words they were probably using cheapo clocks to time the most sensitve equipement.

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