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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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Don Shepperd is the problem
By timmiser on 3/1/2007 7:10:29 PM , Rating: 2
This guy is known to sensationalize stories (i.e.- Make them up!) and I don't believe anything that comes out of his mouth. As others have pointed out, it is obvious he has no idea what he is talking about.

We may not all be F-22 experts but most of us are computer experts and I have a hard time believing that a date/time return area will cause the program to shut down. Most programming systems, and I would like to think this includes the F22's systems, won't just "shut down" the entire program for something as trivial as an incorrect date or time.

Plus as already mutually agreed in this forum, the F22 probably can't fly too well with EVERY system shut down which is exactly what this guy says happened.




RE: Don Shepperd is the problem
By 0serg on 3/4/2007 1:53:26 AM , Rating: 2
Well, why not?
Lets think: crash occuried when planes crossed IDL. Since it is not really important for a fighter to know local time (does it matter, 17:32 or 19:32 is the time at the place where you shoot an enemy plane?), we could guess, that current time zone tracking was implemented as secondary subprogram on plane. It was written fast, since it was secondary, and had never been heavily tested, so when plane crossed IDL something really ugly may had happen - integer overflow, for example, causing this small secondary program to throw an exception. But there were no handlers for any exceptions, and since plane OS is, I think, real-time and thus "single-tasked", this single unhandled exception caused main computer to freeze. And unfortunately there were no "reset button" to do something with it - pilots had to fly without computer at all. Of course, main plain computer is NOT controlling everything - most vital plane subsystems are autonomous, so pilots still can control aircraft.

Well, why do I think this version is real? Since there were several similar cases on American-built planes. It is a known legend, for example, about Israeli F-16, that got all it computer systems down when flying one patrol route near the Dead sea. Nobody in Israel can guess, what happened - the plane was absolutely ok. But next day, this story happened to another F-16 flying the same patrol, at the same point. Israeli had to ask american specialists for help. And it turned out, that plane computer is counting for absolute plane height (thinking it was a positive number, and, I think, implemented as unsigned integer), and failed, when this height became negative (the Dead sea is located 400 meters below the world sea level)


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