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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 Brassbullet on 2/27/2007 12:35:18 AM , Rating: 2
And why not do you say? Ever flown a combat flight simulator? Ever gotten shot down by the AI?

A computer with software can beat even the best at chess, and modern air combat is very much like chess.

Besides, first generation unmanned fighters will be piloted by people in mobile command centers a hundred miles from combat. Who knows, maybe the flight software will even support the Xbox 360 controller.


By 0serg on 2/28/2007 1:11:37 PM , Rating: 3
Wireless network bandwidth is limited, especially when it is jammed. You can remotely control 1, 2, 5, may be 10 aircrafts in "real-time mode" simultaneously, but no more. This is not enough, i think, even for relatively "small" military operation. To make things even worse, you`ll get about 0.2-0.5 seconds lag in aircraft control. Of course, all this doesn`t matter if you just fly and launch dozens of AMRAAMs, but this is safe for pilot too, so you get nothing from RC.

Wireless network bandwidth is limited, especially when it is jammed. You can remotely control 1, 2, 5, may be 10 aircrafts in "real-time mode" simultaneously, but no more. This is not enough, i think, even for relatively "small" military operation. To make things even worse, you`ll get about 0.2-0.5 seconds lag in aircraft control. Of course, all this doesn`t matter if you just fly and launch dozens of AMRAAMs, but this is safe for pilot too, so you get nothing from RC.

When it comes to AI, you forget, that computer game AI do not need to solve "recognition problem". This thing do not have to try to understand where a hell the plane is when GPS fails and what all these radar signals are about. It already knows everything about whats happening around. Unfortunately, piloting REAL plane in REAL conditions is not like solving mathematical task. It needs real AI, and this problem have being solved for more than 20 years now - and still far from completion.


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