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What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/09/2008 3:20 PM

A friend in the avionics industry sent me this…

"You've got to be kidding me there must be a handle in here somewhere!"

The Self-Locking F-22

By ROBERT BRYCE

Last week, Lockheed Martin announced that its profits were up a hefty 60 percent in the first quarter. The company earned $591 million in profit on revenues of $9.2 billion. Now, if the company could just figure out how to put a door handle on its new $361 million F-22 fighter, its prospects would really soar.

On April 10, at Langley Air Force Base, an F-22 pilot, Capt. Brad Spears, was locked inside the cockpit of his aircraft for five hours. No one in the U.S. Air Force or from Lockheed Martin could figure out how to open the aircraft's canopy. At about 1:15 pm, chainsaw-wielding firefighters from the 1st Fighter Wing finally extracted Spears after they cut through the F-22's three-quarter inch-thick polycarbonate canopy.

Total damage to the airplane, according to sources inside the Pentagon: $1.28 million. Not only did the firefighters ruin the canopy, which cost $286,000, they also scuffed the coating on the airplane's skin which will cost about $1 million to replace.



The Pentagon currently plans to buy 181 copies of the F-22 from Lockheed Martin, the world's biggest weapons vendor. The total price tag: $65.4 billion.

The incident at Langley has many Pentagon watchers shaking their heads. Tom Christie, the former director of testing and evaluation for the DOD, calls the F-22 incident at Langley "incredible." "God knows what'll happen next," said Christie, who points out that the F-22 has about two million lines of code in its software system. "This thing is so software intensive. You can't check out every line of code."

Now, just for the sake of comparison, Windows XP, one of the most common computer operating systems, contains about 45 million lines of code. But if any of that code fails, then the computer that's running it simply stops working. It won't cause that computer to fall out of the sky. If any of the F-22's two million lines of computer code go bad, then the pilot can die, or, perhaps, just get trapped in the cockpit.

One analyst inside the Pentagon who has followed the F-22 for years said that "Everyone's incredulous. They're asking can this really have happened?". As for Lockheed Martin, the source said, "Whatever the problem was, the people who built it should know how to open the canopy."

Given that the U.S. military is Lockheed Martin's biggest client, perhaps the company could provide the Air Force with a supply of slim jims or coat hangers, just in case another F-22 pilot gets stuck at the controls.

As if the latest canopy shenanigans weren't bad enough, on May 1, Defense News reported that there are serious structural problems with the F-22. Seems the titanium hull of the aircraft isn't meshing as well as it should. Naturally, taxpayers have to foot the bill for the mistake (improper heat-treating of the titanium) which is found on 90 aircraft. The cost of repairing those wrinkles? Another $1 billion or so.

Lockheed Martin's F-22 spokesman, Joe Quimby, did not return telephone calls.

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#1

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/09/2008 4:43 PM

As one of the people paying for this asset I ask why don't we back charge the expense of all our time and material involved in this incident back to the manufacturer? Why aren't things more competitive like the civilian world? Military parts pay a lot of my salary but if we didn't make sooooo much profit we'd have to pull our heads out of or ass's.

While I'm at it why don't we use these weapons instead of walking around kicking in doors and getting blown up by IED's? Hey, I heard other countries had these cool things called tanks that PROTECT TROOPS FROM THAT CRAP and if things get out of hand you blow things up and kill people until your out of bad guys........you know.......WAR.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/09/2008 10:00 PM

I couldn't agree more.

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#14
In reply to #1

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/11/2008 5:27 PM

Back charge, heck thats were the defense industry makes its millions, it'll back charge the price to put in a back up canopy opening........other than the red lever one you pull once!

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#3

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/09/2008 10:59 PM

I have said it before: Can any one show a Government program or sponsored program that works efficiently?

These are only the glitches that have been allowed (or smuggled out) to come to light. Many others have been buried in the paperwork.

I agree we should not have to pay for this garbage.

Cordially Dragon

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#4

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/10/2008 12:34 AM

"scuffed the coating on the airplane's skin which will cost about $1 million to replace."

Wow. This must be a pretty delicate plane. Well, we should be okay as long as no one shoots at it, and as long as it only flies when there is no chance of icing.

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#5

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/10/2008 4:13 AM

If I were in charge I'd get something less expensive for Kamakazi missions.

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#6

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/10/2008 10:44 AM

The pilot should have made a ground rocket seat ejection, that blows the canopy off and then rockets him up high enough to parachute (automatically deployed of course!!) down.

It certainly would not have been any more expensive to repair!!!

They could have pushed the aircraft onto a grassy area first!!!

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#12
In reply to #6

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/11/2008 9:46 AM

Provided that the explosives would have worked (the doubt is there...:). If they failed, the rocket boosted seat would have crashed in the canopy...

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#15
In reply to #6

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/12/2008 12:03 AM

Hey Andy,

If my memory serves me right a pilot is only able to eject 3 or 4 times before their back is shot (up). and they lose their medical clearance. Friend used to test AcesII system. { ya you, thunder monkey }-)

Brad

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#7

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/10/2008 12:52 PM

As hurting as General Motors is right now, even they are offering ON Star with the purchase of a new car. For the price of one of these, hey spring for the On Star , and let them open the canopy.

#1 oxymoron Government efficiency

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/10/2008 1:31 PM
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#9

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/10/2008 2:58 PM

It was Einstein who said:

"There are only 2 constants in the Universe: The speed of light (186,000 miles/sec) and human stupidity (x^n+1), and I'm not sure about light."

It took ten years of meditation until I figured out why Einstein wasn't certain about light. If light is falling into a Black Hole, we can't tell how fast it's going. Stupidity is self-evident, just look at John Edwards.

/Ari (Orpheuse)

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#10

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/10/2008 7:47 PM

I am a member of another airforce that recently had the experiece of coming up against F-22's on exercise. No wonder the USA wont let any other countries get them, they are by far the most potent air to air weapon that I have seen. Any country in the world would jump at the chance to have them. As for the the "canopy" issue, all aircraft (except F-22's it seems) have a mechanical backup in the cockpit where a pilot can wind up the canopy with a ratchet or something similar. The biggest con I think is the price charged for simple items that all countries seem to pay. One example is a bolt from the gun on a F-16, or F/A 18 (same gun). You can buy this bolt from a hardware store for around $6, our airforce paid $890 US for "one" bolt. The only difference is that it has been x-rayed. Now it doesn't cost $884 to x-ray one bolt and this is a common through out the world. When I retire I'm going to start a business that sells items to the military, only have to sell a bolt this week, maybe a washer next week.

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/10/2008 9:43 PM

Great F-22

Pilot is ok?

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#17
In reply to #10

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/12/2008 11:19 AM

I'm not defending those seemingly rediculous prices, but having worked for the company that builds the F-22 for a number of years I do know why they are so high. Point your finger at the government, not the contractor. I can assure you that there was more involved with that bolt than an x-ray. Most of it is a result of meeting the requirements of Mil Std 9858A (at least that's what it used to be) and the accompanying Std's that fall under that umbrella. There is so much testing, documentation, inspections, vendor qualification, quality control, tracking, calibration, etc... involved with that bolt that its probably a deal.

I know this sounds a wee bit morbid, but we used to joke that the seat on a B-52 had been so thoroughly tested that if the plane went down the toilet seat would survive. That's an exageration, to be sure. When you work in the defense environment (thank God I don't anymore) you come away shaking your head at the hoops the government requires you to jump through and how rediculously anal their inspectors are.

On the other hand, if your life depended upon that bolt you might not think its so rediculous.

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/12/2008 11:34 AM

I to worked in the defense industry, They do have cost overruns, which a percentage is justifiable, due to development and implementing leading edge tech.

But at other times accountability is lost.

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#13

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/11/2008 3:07 PM

I think the expression on the pilot's face just about says it all. I'm guessing this was from near the end of his 5-hour ordeal. At least the firefighters have reliable equipment, although they apparently need to spring for some soft-soled shoes. I didn't realize titanium/steel alloy was so tender...

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#16

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/12/2008 6:24 AM

It finally occurred to me - I guess there's a psychomental black hole associated with this aircraft, people seem to forget to remember around it - that there has been an awfully long in-service time for something like this to just now be noticed! How have they got all of the previous test pilots, airshow aviators, and qualification flyers out of the cockpit up to this point?

Or are there a few dozen F-22's sitting out there on the tarmac with skeletons in 'em because they COULDN'T get 'em out? Maybe this pilot just got real lucky and there was a firefighter team on hand...

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#19
In reply to #16

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/14/2008 3:39 PM

I'd be willing to bet it was either a software glitch that is the result of a rarely encountered combination of events, or possibly a hardware failure that led to a sensor input malfunction. (burned out semiconductor for instance due to static electricity). I doubt this is a common occurrence (unlike the keyless entry problem that Chrysler has with it's new vehicles!).

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: What do you get when you cross an F-22 with a Software Glitch?

08/15/2008 10:24 AM

I sure HOPE it isn't common - replacing even one in ten of those canopies would get expensive in a real hurry!

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