STAR-BULLETIN / 2002
The Air Force is fixing technological problems in its F-22 Raptor fighter jets after a glitch crippled navigation systems and hindered communications on six aircraft flying from Hawaii to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, Japan, on Feb. 10. CLICK FOR LARGE
Glitches in Raptors being fixed
A computer error occurs after six of the Air Force jets leave Hawaii for Japan
WASHINGTON » The Air Force says it is fixing technological glitches in roughly 87 F-22 Raptor fighter jets after several aircraft computer systems were disabled this month during a test flight from Honolulu.
The six stealth fighter jets -- built by prime contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. and partner Boeing Co. -- were participating in an inaugural 12-hour test flight from Hawaii to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, Japan, on Feb. 10 when a "navigation anomaly" maimed several computer systems on the aircraft, an Air Force colonel said yesterday.
The computer glitch, which occurred as aircraft crossed the international date line, crippled navigation systems and hindered communications.
The incident was first reported by CNN on Feb. 17. Yesterday, the Air Force provided more details about the incident.
One pilot was able to contact contractor Lockheed Martin to trouble-shoot the error during the flight, the Air Force said. Several pilots attempted to reboot the system with no success and returned to Hawaii with the help of aerial refueling tankers as a safety precaution.
Engineers were able to locate the problem within hours and fixed the glitch on the aircraft in a matter of days, according to the Air Force.
Lockheed Martin declined to provide further comment on additional costs of the upgrades.
It is common for pilots to experience operational problems during initial deployments, said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Virginia-based Lexington Institute.
A senior Air Force officer told reporters yesterday there are no plans to conduct further testing on the F-22 Raptor.
"Until you really fly the airplane and do something, that's when the rubber hits the road. Industry are developing any kind of computer or airplane system, and you will see there is no substitute for flying something," Col. Tom Bergeson, Operations Group Commander at the First Fighter Wing, told reporters on a conference call from Langley Air Force Base, Va.
The Raptor, built to fight the now defunct Soviet Union and worth roughly $70 million including development costs, has been riddled with mechanical and political problems. Initial plans called for 750, but only 183 are now slated to be built under the proposed 2007 fiscal defense budget.
The Defense Department is requesting $2.78 billion in the 2007 budget under review by Congress.
Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed is responsible for the majority of the airframe, weapons systems and final assembly, while partner Chicago-based Boeing is tasked with providing the aircraft with wings, fuselage, avionics integration, and training for pilots and maintenance.