US Superfighter software glitch fixed
Jets can now cross Pacific, Far East safe for democracy again
Significant new capabilities have been added to the US Air Force's latest superfighter, the F-22 "Raptor". The USAF's Raptors cost more than $300m each, and are generally thought to be the most advanced combat jets in service worldwide. However, until recently they were unable to cross the international date line owing to a software bug in their navigation systems.
A group of F-22s heading across the Pacific for exercises in Japan earlier this month suffered simultaneous total nav-console crashes as their longitude shifted from 180 degrees West to 180 East.
Luckily, the superjets were accompanied by tanker planes, whose navigation kit was somewhat less bleeding-edge and remained functional. The tanker drivers were able to guide the lost top-guns back to Hawaii and the exercises were postponed.
"Every time we fly this jet we learn something new," Raptor squadron commanding officer Lt-Col Wade Tolliver said.
But enemies of democracy who may have been planning an opportunistic attack on Hawaii followed by a retreat to safety across the date line shouldn't get their hopes up. The software bug has been rectified, and the Raptors have now successfully travelled to Kadena Air Base in Japan, where air-combat exercises are now well underway.
"This is history in the making," said Brigadier Punch Moulton, commanding the Kadena-based 18th Wing.
The deployment is expected to last more than three months. ®
I found a blurb in a RISKs digest:
F-16 Problems (from Usenet net.aviation)
Bill Janssen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wed, 27 Aug 86 14:31:45 CDT
A friend of mine who works for General Dynamics here in Ft. Worth wrote some of the code for the F-16, and he is always telling me about some neato-whiz-bang bug/feature they keep finding in the F-16:
o Since the F-16 is a fly-by-wire aircraft, the computer keeps the pilot from doing dumb things to himself. So if the pilot jerks hard over on the joystick, the computer will instruct the flight surfaces to make a nice and easy 4 or 5 G flip. But the plane can withstand a much higher flip than that.
So when they were 'flying' the F-16 in simulation over the equator, the computer got confused and instantly flipped the plane over, killing the pilot [in simulation]. And since it can fly forever upside down, it would do so until it ran out of fuel.
Some more stories...
I remember when I was a student back in the 80s we had a guest lecturer from one of the aircraft manufacturers who related a couple of tales.
The first was that when some planes (can't remember which ones now) were pointing due north, they would fail to start up. They were apparently designed to check their electronic compasses and a little measurement noise was acceptable. When north, the noise could make the compass output flick between close to 0 and close to 360, which the computers decided was a lot of noise and shut the thing down.
The second tale was that the computers in one experimental plane would fail when high-G turns were performed. They traced the problem to certain components in the system being socketed. During the turns the forces were enough to pull those chips from their sockets.
Wow - My professor told me the same story......
I think this is one of those scare your students stories that all Comp Sci professors tell. I heard the same thing in one of my classes.