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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: Why do we need such high-tech planes?
By DannyH246 on 2/26/2007 12:41:25 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, but your plain wrong. British Airways's own public accounts showed that the Concorde service was making (admittedly small) a profit.

The fact is the Americans behaved in their usual way when another country displayed anything that is technically superior to what they have. Go back check the history, JFK proposed America's own supersonic plane that was of course bigger and faster than Concorde. When they finally realised how much it would cost and how difficult it was, it was cancelled, and then the dirty tricks of it being banned from American airports started. Of course Japan dutifully did what it was told and they didn't bother with it either.

The facts are nobody else dared to invest such huge sums of money in a supersonic jet after what happened with Concorde. Of course once Concorde was relegated to a small part of the market the only other nation that could develop a supersonic plane i.e America, well they weren't bothered as they had everyone buying Boeing 747's.

I suppose its one big what if, but if America had embraced Concorde then i believe we would all be flying supersonic now. Technology would have moved on, others would have made their own supersonic planes and competition and economies of scale would have made everything cheaper and more economical.

RE: Why do we need such high-tech planes?
By TomZ on 2/26/2007 1:04:43 PM , Rating: 2
Did you read the article I linked?

As the chief executive of Airbus, Noel Forgeard, said, "The costs of operating Concorde, and in particular maintenance and support, have become such that operations are unrealistic for any operator."

In the end, paying up to $10K each-way limited the Concorde to a small niche of possible customers, and this had an obvious impact on the number of flights, and therefore, the number of aircraft built. Because of these low numbers, the other costs were too high. That's what I would call not economically viable.

Finally, if aircraft like Concorde were viable, and Americans just wanted one "invented here" as you argue, then why didn't Boeing go on to build one? Don't you think that if such a market actually existed, then Boeing would have realized that and invested in that capability?

RE: Why do we need such high-tech planes?
By DannyH246 on 2/26/2007 1:47:02 PM , Rating: 1
Yes i did, and in the article it also states that BA were making a profit. Also if it was such a money-loser why wouldn't BA sell their Concorde's to Virgin? Surely they should have been happy to get such a liability off their balance sheet?

In any case the comments that you are quoting are from recent history, in 1976 the political landscape was totally different. The princiapal reason why American airlines did not buy Concorde initially was because of the announced American SST project that was rushed out in case America got left behind in the supersonic age, not because of cost.

As to your last point i've already said, why would Boeing want to invest such huge amounts of money when they had most of the market wrapped up with various versions of the 747?

RE: Why do we need such high-tech planes?
By TomZ on 2/26/2007 2:04:08 PM , Rating: 2
If BA can't make it work, then why would Virgin have any better luck? Virgin can't change the cost and availability of spare parts, for example.

I'm sure Boeing also noticed the fact that half of the Concordes ever built were never purchased, and were eventually given away to the airlines. Having only covered about 1/2 your costs is not any want to achieve "economic viability." Maybe that's just an American thing, though. :o)

By InsaneScientist on 2/26/2007 10:00:47 PM , Rating: 2

Boeing may not be interested in producing another supersonic passenger plane... but Boeing isn't the only game in town, either. :o)

Take a gander at Lockheed's new toy:

What do you know? I guess the innovations that they make for the millitary actually do trickle down into the consumer marketspace. ;)

It's actually estimated to start flying in 2011. It would be really cool if Lockheed could pull this project through and they started getting popular so they could be mass produced. Maybe we could start seeing supersonic passenger planes for the slightly less wealthy of us. We can hope... :D

By Sahrin on 2/26/2007 1:42:02 PM , Rating: 2
If the Concorde was profitable, it was the fact that its ticket prices were significantly higher than "conventional" flights - it may have been profitable in a strictly limited transatlantic sense, but there would not have been the financial support for the craft were it used more broadly (because the cost to operate is fixed, but when you increase supply, the price (and therefore revenue) must fall.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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