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Air Force Claims To Have Solved Fatal F-22 Oxygen Riddle

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the doctor-was-its-mother dept.

The Military 172

Hugh Pickens writes "DefenseTech reports that Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, the director of operations for Air Combat Command, told the Pentagon press corps that a valve that inflates the Combat Edge upper pressure garment is the cause of hypoxia-like symptoms in pilots flying the F-22. The problem forced the service to ground the Air Force's most prized stealth fighter fleet for four months and led two Raptor pilots to tell the nation on CBS's 60 Minutes that they refused to fly the jet because the pilots feared for their lives. The vests help control the breathing of pilots in high G-force environments, inflating before pilots start to experience extreme G-force conditions. However Lyon explained that the valves caused the vests to inflate too early in an F-22 flight, causing pilots to hyperventilate in the cockpits. 'It's like putting a corset around your chest,' said Lyons. Eagle and Viper pilots stopped wearing the upper pressure garments in 2004 'because they were not giving us the contribution we thought they would,' said Lyon. F-22 pilots kept wearing them because they flew at higher altitudes and the vests protected the pilots from 'rapid decompression,' adding that F-22 pilots, many of whom flew the F-15 and F-16, didn't notice the vests had inflated early because of the layers of gear a pilot wears in flight. Such a simple answer to a problem that has eluded Air Force engineers and scientists for four years has left some Air Force pilots skeptical that the USAF has solved the problem. An F-16 pilot said the Air Force is either 'incompetent for missing this until now,' or 'dishonest and trying to sweep something under the rug.'"

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It's an Emergent Bug (5, Insightful)

CajunArson (465943) | about 2 years ago | (#40877315)

The valve explanation in the summary is a gross oversimplification. The valve - in isolation - was just fine. The combination of the valve, anti-chem warfare filters, the vest, and potentially other components in the *entire system* were causing the issues in seemingly random ways that were hard to fully pin down. If you took any of these components and tested it individually, you'd never spot the issue.

The moral of the story is that, just like complex software, complex aircraft can exhibit emergent bug behaviour that you won't catch with unit tests.

Re:It's an Emergent Bug (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40877541)

I read wat you have written and it is true. I am thinking that for some reason i procrastinate. Beside not getting motivated. once i start i feel good i love that i am Quickest Way To Burn Fat [killfat.net]

Re:It's an Emergent Bug (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40877757)

I hope you get raped by a pack of niggers some time in the near future.

Re:It's an Emergent Bug (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about 2 years ago | (#40877955)

"complex physical systems" actually. This lesson can be generalized in a way helpful far beyond warfare

Re:It's an Emergent Bug (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#40878209)

That's just what they want you to think. It's actually the antigravity drive reverse engineered from the alien spaceship at Area 51 causing air molecules to "fall up" out of their lungs :-P

Re:It's an Emergent Bug (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 2 years ago | (#40878465)

The moral of the story is that, just like complex software, complex aircraft can exhibit emergent bug behaviour that you won't catch with unit tests.

It's not rocket science to figure out that inserting a carbon filter into your airflow would restrict the airflow.

Incompetence? (0, Flamebait)

GeneralTurgidson (2464452) | about 2 years ago | (#40877333)

Never confuse incompetence with military SOP.

U$A problems... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40877339)

*derp eagle*

Covering up for a crony? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40877353)

The story I heard from someone who works at Lockheed-Martin and who specifically worked on the F-22 was that they were using the wrong lubricant on the valves of the oxygen system and that the bad lubricant was somehow to blame. At least, that's what the mechanics who worked on the jets were told...

Makes me wonder why the official story would differ so much? Maybe the Air Force is covering up for a Lockheed mistake? The big defense contractors are definitely in bed with the government; I just wonder how far it really goes.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40877411)

all the way to the top

Re:Covering up for a crony? (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40877463)

The real story?
The problem is they did not realize that Anubis had recall technology built into everything so when we based the YF22 on the captured Goa'uld technology was causing this. They modified the recall system so the controls would not respond so the Naquadah generators simply started to kill the pilots instead.

Really simple. It was a contractor oversight.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (2, Interesting)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#40877527)

The big defense contractors are definitely in bed with the government...

Oh please, you're just now understanding the Real World? Put on your big boy pants. The REAL story here is if an improper lube can cause a system to fail, what does that say about modern American aircraft design? Out in the field units run out of things. I think we need to start designing things for real-world combat again. Read about the differences between an M-16 and an AK-47 some time.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (5, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#40877695)

It doesn't say anything about American aircraft design - aircraft are complicated beasts, and if the lubrication used is out of spec for the task at hand then it may cause unexpected behaviour. Does it stick when it shouldn't? Does it jelly when it shouldn't? What is its operating temperature ranges? What does it react with?

There are many reasons why a specific lubricant can only be used in certain ways and places on an aircraft - you don't want a low friction lubricant with a narrow operating temperature being exposed to low temperatures for example, but you also don't want a lubricant which can be exposed to low temperatures to be used in its place because it probably has a different viscosity and this will change how the lubricant works.

The differences between an AK-47 and an M-16 is that an M-16 is a finicky beast, but its also a more accurate beast - you will achieve rates of fire and accuracy with an M-16 that you wouldn't with an AK-47, but it comes at the price of higher maintenance requirements.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#40877763)

One further point to say - sure, its possible to make systems resilient to using the wrong lubricant, but the penalty for that is ... weight.

More weight means a less efficient aircraft. More thrust required, higher fuel burn penalties, lower performance ratings etc etc etc.

So require a specific lubricant, put that in the maintenance manual and move on.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (0)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#40877767)

Both your statements make my point. GI's often grabbed captured AK's for use in the jungle where reliability was highly valued. As for jets requiring specialized lubes in too may cases- I think that's a problem.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#40877807)

I'd love for you to come and design an aircraft someday, if you think its a solvable problem that doesn't carry penalties...

We've moved on from the days of the Wright brothers - even a Boeing 787 requires on average about 400 different types of lubricant.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (0)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#40877895)

Not my job. I'd love for you to design a plane with simpler aircraft maintnance. Apparently that's your job.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (3, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#40878079)

Simpler maintenance is just one operational requirement on a shopping list with dozens of others - if you want to prioritise maintenance over everything else then sure, that's something we can do. Won't make for a good aircraft tho...

Re:Covering up for a crony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40880423)

You're a fucking nincompoop.

This type of aircraft are some of the most advanced and highly engineered technology that humans have ever built. They are designed for certain specifications, which include cost, reliability, maintenance, operational, and logistics concerns (as well as obvious flight and fight performance), and the engineers push the design as far as they can.

You want a simpler engine that requires less "types of lube" which you hope makes it slightly cheaper in terms of maintenance and logistics in the field? Well then you're going to have to sacrifice some engine performance or part lifetime or weight or service schedule.

So yeah, I suggest you stick to your job, rather than being armchair designer in an incredibly complex field that you know nothing about.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40880041)

This is a lie. No aircraft requires 400 different types of lubricant.

I work on C-130's and while they aren't as big as 787's we use about 4 different types of lube OVERALL.

source: C-130 mech

Re:Covering up for a crony? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#40880383)

I'm willing to stand by my comments with a proper nick and an email address - you aren't...

You might be a C-130 mech, but I doubt you've ever done deep maintenance on one, because the total number of lubricants on a Herc is much more than 4. And if you are just using 4 in general maintenance then Lockheed ain't going to be happy with you.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (0)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40878133)

I'm a reddit reject. Subscibe to my newsletter.

Hey, that's great. Get rejected from Stackoverflow too, and you're a hero in my book.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (1)

deburg (838010) | about 2 years ago | (#40878003)

The differences between an AK-47 and an M-16 is that an M-16 is a finicky beast, but its also a more accurate beast - you will achieve rates of fire and accuracy with an M-16 that you wouldn't with an AK-47, but it comes at the price of higher maintenance requirements.

True true. While both designers of the AK-47 and M-16 (AR-15) were WWII veterans, work on the rifles that eventually resulted in the AK-47 started during WWII itself (SKS, Mikhtim) was started due to the designer's (Mikhail Kalashnikov) complains with their Soviet rifles, hence reliability in the field was prioritized.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (3, Informative)

supercrisp (936036) | about 2 years ago | (#40878525)

I think the point is that the benefits of these beasts don't outweigh their finickiness. We didn't need an M-16. An AK-47 would do the job. And we don't need an F-22 because there's not even a job for it currently. Yet we're talking about or are phasing-out the A-10, which we clearly need. Another great example would be the B-2, which can't fly a useful number of sorties because it has to be based on the other side of the world from its targets because of its finicky maintenance demands. We were better served in Iraq by the B-52 flying 18-wheeler from the 50s, which can haul twice the payload of the B-2 and was operated from in-theater bases as well as from US bases. Granted, the B-52 is plenty complicated, but is nothing like the "Spirit." Another great example would be the obviously failed combat radio project, which ended up with a device a soldier couldn't carry, couldn't operate in anything like outdoor temps, and took a few minutes to boot up. Can't recall the name, but there was an article on Ars Technica a few weeks ago.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (5, Informative)

x3CDA84B (2592699) | about 2 years ago | (#40878959)

We didn't need an M-16. An AK-47 would do the job.

Have you ever actually fired those two weapons? I was sure I'd prefer the AK (due to high reliability) until I actually tried one and compared it with an M-4. The AK was almost embarrassingly inaccurate, and jumped around like a madman. The M-4 was extremely-accurate, and very stable while firing. It may take more careful maintenance, but there's no question which of the two I'd want to depend on as a weapon.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (2)

hey! (33014) | about 2 years ago | (#40880001)

The notion that the M16 is unreliable got started with the shaky roll out in Vietnam. The normal teething problems of any system were exacerbated by a switch to ammunition that caused fouling problems. Recent surveys of combat troops show a very high rate of satisfaction with the weapon (80%).

I suspect the myth lives on in part because of lack of statistical sophistication. Any weapon will jam from time to time, and Afghanistan is America's longest running war ever. Over eleven years there have no doubt been countless jams, and firefights where multiple weapons jammed. These incidents are immediately taken as "proof" that the device is unreliable, failing to take into account the sheer number of rounds fired. There's probably no way to disprove this idea in the public mind, because every failure is "proof" of unreliability, and statistics showing failures are rare are bound to be seen as a cover-up.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#40879371)

No one is talking about phasing out the A-10, they are spending billions of dollars right now hanging new wings on 250 examples to keep it flying for the next 25 years...

The B-52 is a notable bomb truck, but it certainly cant haul twice the load of a B-2 - its more like a third more, and it requires more support structure to carry that payload the same distance as the B-2. The B-51 also can't be used on first day strikes these days due to the absolutely huge radar signature it has - if the Vietnamese could shoot it down in the 1970s, its going to get massacred by todays technology unless those SAM sites are taken out before the B-52 arrives.

My point? Theres a job to be done and the only suitable aircraft for that job are doing it. Once the integration of the F-22 has been completed, it will also do more of its job in operational theatres, rather than languishing in what basically amounts to advanced training roles right now.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#40878099)

It says that the Americans put on their thinking caps and came up with a solution to a very difficult problem, in the best tradition of their kind.

Let me guess, your next example is going to be the old saw about the American vs. Soviet space programs, and how the Americans spent millions on a pen while the Soviets used a pencil [snopes.com] . The AK vs. M-16 debate has been had a million times. Think of a slider bar with "reliability" on one side and "accuracy" on the other. Then, think about each nation's militaries (conscripts who have never seen a flush toilet vs. motivated volunteers).

Re:Covering up for a crony? (1)

blagooly (897225) | about 2 years ago | (#40878237)

I took this as good news too. Some cynicism is appropriate, things are trending towards broken today. But there are good honest people working hard, fighting the good fight in a lot of difficult environments today, getting it done. Everywhere, management and risk averse multiple levels of bureaucracy stifle the good folks. Most of us suffer this with private companies. Imagine adding politics, the Pentagon, way too many billions, various contractors in severe CYA mode, all potentially covering up? Yikes. Glad it is not me. But good work to the folks who got it done. We need this plane in the air.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | about 2 years ago | (#40878651)

Thank you. One is reminded that it was Eisenhower (who whined about that there "military-industrial-complex" wussing out and removing the "congressional" part from the phrase) who was responsible for multiple appointments of Nelson Rockefeller to his administration --- the very same Rockefeller who made radical changes to various governmental organizations and institutions, e.g., Ex-Im Bank (altering its ruling 4-person management to only one person), making it easier to compromise them in the interests of the multinationals. And how many democratically elected governments were overthrown during Einsenhower's administration (believe it was at least 3 to 4, with much aid and munitions help from the US gov't).

Re:Covering up for a crony? (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 2 years ago | (#40879469)

Put on your big boy pants. The REAL story here is if an improper lube can cause a system to fail, what does that say about modern American aircraft design?

I don't care how big your boy-pants are, if you don't know the importance of proper lube in a mechanical system... are you sure you're technical enough for slashdot? You can't even properly operate hot grits without the right lube.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#40879769)

Having to choose between 50 different lubs to maintain an addmiteddly complicated system means I can't post on slachdot? "And surely you're not that stupid about real-life combat situations" asks the jarface ('91, Iraq.)

Re:Covering up for a crony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40880017)

The M16A4 and M4 of today is performs AMAZINGLY better than any AK-47. I'm tired of hearing ordinary internet-jockeys complaining about 1970-1980 M-16s that have no business being compared to your modern AR platform.

Go look at any gun magazine at your favorite magazine stand and count how many of these finicky beasts there are.

the AK-47 and 74 cousin are INFERIOR.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (3, Funny)

nighthawk243 (2557486) | about 2 years ago | (#40877781)

I once used the wrong lubricant. My wife still hasn't let me live that one down.

Re:Covering up for a crony? (0, Troll)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#40878451)

How far does it go?

Mega-corporations, including defense contractors, with the government in their pockets cause protracted wars of choice for profit against peoples who didn't attack us. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians die, so they can line their pockets and make political coin and fulfill agendas. Mass murder and maiming for a buck and to fullfill lust for power and importance, that's how far it goes.

Be skeptical of quotes like this (5, Insightful)

sco08y (615665) | about 2 years ago | (#40877447)

An F-16 pilot said the Air Force is either “incompetent for missing this until now,” or “dishonest and trying to sweep something under the rug.”

Usually a reporter throws out dozens of quotes until she finds one like this that is sensational.

A quote like, "yeah, this is a really hard engineering problem to solve, and every time you go up and run a test flight it's expensive and dangerous," just wouldn't get printed because it's not news.

Re:Be skeptical of quotes like this (3, Insightful)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 2 years ago | (#40877571)

wouldn't get printed because it's not news.

It's plenty newsworthy, it's just not sensational enough for our retarded "If it bleeds, it leads" type 'news' here in America.

Re:Be skeptical of quotes like this (4, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | about 2 years ago | (#40877811)

I really miss the old days when they just reported the news factually and let people make up their own minds, rather then the "news as a product that must be tailored for optimal consumption" corporate-whore mentality that we're stuck with today.

It's not a new phenomenon (William Randolph Hearst was doing the same shit a century ago) but it's certainly become totally pervasive these days...

Re:Be skeptical of quotes like this (4, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 2 years ago | (#40877891)

I miss the days when trending twitter comments weren't considered "news" by mainstream outlets.

I think we're both out of luck.

Re:Be skeptical of quotes like this (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#40880751)

I miss the days when trending twitter comments weren't considered "news" by mainstream outlets.

I miss the days when the wire service news had more content than the twitter comments.

Re:Be skeptical of quotes like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40879289)

Those days were a brief aberration, starting with WWII and ending some time during the Reagan Revolution.

But those weren't necessarily halcyon days. There was an implicit bargain, an uneasy truce between liberal and conservative which left a lot of news unreported. The conservatives broke the truce because they couldn't win at the polls. It's not a coincidence that the rise of today's media occurred concurrently with the Republican Revolution in Congress.

Still, especially with the Internet available, I'd far prefer the 60s era mass media news style. It wouldn't be even that hard to do. Everybody believes that newspaper and TV news is unprofitable, but I suspect that if we saw the numbers that the overall journalistic work force at the major organizations in the 60s was far less than today. So it's not that its unprofitable, it just has razor thin margins because it grew.

Re:Be skeptical of quotes like this (2)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 years ago | (#40879291)

I really miss the old days when they just reported the news factually...

I'm sorry, *which* "good old days" were these?

Perhaps you're referring to the days of Cronkite or before? You are of the "get off my lawn" era? I somehow doubt you are of that vintage, because if you were, you would know that the news-media has always had a heavy bias towards whatever the current power structure was. History proves this.

Unsupportable anecdotes aside, you are referring to something that has never existed.

Re:Be skeptical of quotes like this (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 2 years ago | (#40879499)

I really miss the old days when they just reported the news factually and let people make up their own minds

Ah yes, childhood... the innocence of ignorance, before we discovered everybody was full of it.

Re:Be skeptical of quotes like this (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#40877621)

What's wrong with that? It fits the narrative. News is about telling stories. What kind of story does your BS quote tell? Can you imagine a genuine, bona fide journalist telling your story?

Re:Be skeptical of quotes like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40877721)

What's wrong with that? It fits the narrative. News is about telling stories. What kind of story does your BS quote tell? Can you imagine a genuine, bona fide journalist telling your story?

My quote sounds like the kind of quote my dad would run with, but he's a genuine, bona fide journalist who retired 15 years ago. Notably, he has a degree in economics, not journalism. He's absolutely bewildered by all the stuff about narratives, it was "just the facts" in his day.

Something tells me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40877451)

..he's Lyon. Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week, don't forget to tip the waitstaff.

F-16 Viper? (3, Interesting)

Henriok (6762) | about 2 years ago | (#40877477)

It's unusual to have the F-16 referred to as Viper in articles like this. I had to look it up and indeed, it seems to be a common and old nickname for it. I think it suits the aircraft better than the "Fighting Falcon".. I never understood why they had to put the "Fighting" in the name.. wasn't Falcon enough?

Re:F-16 Viper? (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#40877521)

This article [f-16.net] claims that part of the reason for the "Fighting Falcon" rather than "Falcon" name was to avoid being named too similarly to the Dassault Falcon [wikipedia.org] .

Re:F-16 Viper? (1)

nighthawk243 (2557486) | about 2 years ago | (#40877797)

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Since I am a fighter jet nerd (I play Falcon 4.0 heavily as well with all the community mods that make it just a bit short of the real thing), I knew what they were talking about... but I'd imagine many slashdotters would have trouble without hitting up Google.

Re:F-16 Viper? (2)

nighthawk243 (2557486) | about 2 years ago | (#40877825)

Forgot to mention: Many aircraft have official names that the pilots rarely use. F-16 Fighting Falcon: "Viper" A-10 Thunderbolt II: "Warthog" B-52 Stratofortress: "BUFF" (Big Ugly Fat Fucker) F-4 Phantom II: "Rhino", "The Flying Brick"...etc

Re:F-16 Viper? (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 2 years ago | (#40877915)

Also the UH-1 Iroquois: "Huey" and the CH-46 Sea Knight: "Frog".

Re:F-16 Viper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40878007)

Sea King: "Splash"?

Re:F-16 Viper? (1)

nighthawk243 (2557486) | about 2 years ago | (#40878167)

CH-47 Chinook: "Shithook"
MH-53J Pave Low IIIE: "Grease Pig" (per my father).

Re:F-16 Viper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40877939)

They obviously want to differentiate between these and the ones sold to Pakistan (which rusted away in hangars**, which were obviously not 'fighting').

**thanks (in a non-facetious sense) to the Pressler Amendment: http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/03/the_f_16_fiasco [foreignpolicy.com]

captcha: "rusting". heh.

Re:F-16 Viper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40877967)

Perhaps some of them remembered that it was once the name of a small, underpowered Ford automobile.

Re:F-16 Viper? (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#40878047)

That's OK - just call it the Lawn Dart and everyone will know what you're talking about [f-16.net] . The joke comes out of the fact that the F-16 is a single engine airplane and has all fly-by-wire flight controls without manual backup. Combine that ALSO with the fact that a lot of F-16s were powered by the Pratt F-100-PW-220 engine, which has had a reputation for being not exactly the most reliable motor. This has led to a lot of people needing to bail out of the jet for engine problems -- failure, fire, bird ingestion, etc. This leaves that sleek, pointy-nosed aerospace vehicle to fall to earth ballistically, just like a lawn dart. They lost nearly a squadron a year this way.

They called it the Viper after the Colonial Viper from the Battlestar Galactica TV series. The real one - the one with the inimitable Lorne Greene as Commander Adama and the dashing Dirk Benedict as Starbuck the cigar-chomping, womanizing lovable rogue [dirkbenedictcentral.com] . You know, back when they used to come up with new ideas for TV shows instead of "re-imagining" old series that frankly weren't that great in the first place.

Re:F-16 Viper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40878597)

I guess you're too young to remember it, but the "lawn dart" was actually the F-104, also known as "the widow maker" or "Erdnagel". The F-16 is way to safe to warrant that comparison.

F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (4, Insightful)

Glock27 (446276) | about 2 years ago | (#40877483)

The F-22 production line should be restarted, with limited exports allowed to Japan and Australia. Also, some portion (probably about 1/4) of F-35 production should be replaced by F-22 production.

The F-22 is operational now, and completely wipes the F-35 on at least two fronts - supercruise and all-aspect stealth. It also has a worthy air-to-ground role, carrying up to four small diameter bombs or a single 1,000 lb JDAM per weapon bay. Finally, with two engines it has a margin of safety that the F-35 can't match.

With F-35 costs spiraling out of control, the F-22 is looking to be quite a bargain at around the same cost per airframe.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (3, Informative)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40877509)

What would be the point? All the profit was in developing the F-22 not building it. F-35 is where it's at now.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#40877531)

Agreed.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (1)

amorsen (7485) | about 2 years ago | (#40877687)

The F-22 hasn't seen combat despite the wide variety of combat situations the US has been in over the last few years. Obviously there hasn't been a real air superiority fight against other aircraft, but if the F-22 had become really useful in an air-to-ground role, surely it would have been used.

The US has enough F-22's to take on every credible air-to-air threat. What it doesn't have is a modern small bomber, which is effectively what F/A-18 and F-16 is being used for. The F/A-18E/F is pretty good in that role but it isn't stealthy, and that can become a problem against modern ground-fired anti-aircraft missiles.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (1)

M1FCJ (586251) | about 2 years ago | (#40877893)

With less than 500kg air to ground capability, F-22 in that role is useless. Good old flying brick F-4 could carry 8.5 tons of it.

The only reason the capability exists is to lie to the politicians and the public.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40878311)

Correct number would be 900kg, ie 2xJDAM(à 450kg) or 8xGBU-39(à 110kg)

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (1)

nighthawk243 (2557486) | about 2 years ago | (#40877959)

The Raptor was designed to take the place of the F-15C in the air superiority role. Of course, the last two major conflicts we've been involved in didn't really have much in the way of an air force (Taliban didn't have much of an air force to speak of and the Iraqi's just buried theirs in the sand). The F-35 is the multirole spin-off of that, which is expected to start taking over for the F-16 in the US. The US probably won't really utilize a small bomber aircraft since the preference is now for multirole jets such as the F-16, F/A-18, and the F-35. The closest to a small bomber aircraft that we currently utilize wold probably be the Strike Eagle, but even that is technically considered a multirole fighter. The big reason multirole fighters have been used by the US is because of the flexibility. You can have the same squadron use their air craft for whatever mission is needed. Need a BARCAP? We can do it. Need a Wild Weasel mission? No problem. Plus you don't need fighter escorts nearly as much since you can always load a few AIM-9's or AIM-120's on the jets to defend themselves with (Plus anyways, you cannot load bombs on the wingtip hardpoints). If the shit really hits the fan, they can just jettison the A-G loadout and dogfight if needed. The F-105 (a fighter bomber) really only had rear-aspect AIM-9's and good luck dogfighting in one of those.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (1)

amorsen (7485) | about 2 years ago | (#40878277)

It is fine that they are called multirole fighters, but their role is almost exclusively bombing. Feel free to replace "small bomber" with "multirole fighter" in my comment.
-i
The F-16 is getting quite long in the tooth, F/A-18E/F is non-stealthy and rather expensive, F-22 can't do a credible air-to-ground mission. With F-35 being extremely expensive, it looks like the US airforce will be a lot less scary once F-16 is retired.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (1)

winwar (114053) | about 2 years ago | (#40878781)

There isn't much point in developing a light bomber if you have cruise missiles or UAV's. They perform much of the same role, are cheaper and expendable.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (1)

amorsen (7485) | about 2 years ago | (#40879657)

Cruise missiles are way too expensive for most of the missions flown over e.g. Libya.

UAV's are an option, but they do not carry enough ordnance yet and they are still dependent on complete air superiority. So far the attempts to fix those problems have increased cost a lot.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40877745)

The F-22 is a solution to a problem that no longer exists. It is a Cold War relic and not suited for modern asymmetrical warfare.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (1)

M1FCJ (586251) | about 2 years ago | (#40877873)

No one wants to buy F-22. Hell, we don't even want Eurofighter but still buy it because of politics.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | about 2 years ago | (#40878355)

Japan, Australia, and Israel have all expressed interest in the F-22, though the per-airframe cost is a major hindering point for all of them.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40878883)

Meh, we'll just give them to Israel along with all the aid we give them every year.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (1)

the_humeister (922869) | about 2 years ago | (#40878379)

Incorrect. Our allies do want the F-22. However, there is congressional mandate barring sales of the F-22 for no apparent reason. Just another reason why congress is fail.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (5, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 2 years ago | (#40877985)

And meanwhile the after action reports from the conflicts fought in the last 25 years have all said the same thing: need more A-10's and B-52's.

It still seems to me that the best course of action would have been to invest a little in an update of the F-15 20 years ago and kept it in production a little longer similiar to what the Navy did with the F-18 Super Hornet. (I think R&D for that was around $200M).

The only problem with the F-15's is not that it's being out classed even today as it is the number of flight hours on the existing airframes.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (3, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 2 years ago | (#40878445)

The only problem with the F-15's is not that it's being out classed even today as it is the number of flight hours on the existing airframes.

Boeing's F-15 production line is still up and running.
A few years ago, they unvieled the F-15 SE (Silent Eagle) [wikipedia.org] for ~$100 million
It has updated avionics and a stealthier aspect + export legal stealth coating that is good against air-to-air radar.
The current crop of F-15C/E airplanes is also getting some updated radar and avionics, but not a full overhaul.

/Boeing is also offering F-18 variants for ~$50 million each.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40878055)

The F-22 production line should be restarted

No, just the opposite. The F-22 should be phased out and the squadrons disbanded. It is an expensive solution to a problem that does not exist. It's a wet dream for air force desk jockeys, but the reality is that the USA spends more on its military than all other nations combined, and it needs to start spending less or the entire nation will go fiscally tits up.

The F-22 is too expensive to keep flying. The F-35 is not needed either. We have a perfectly adequate air force with the existing F-16/F18, and no nation has challenged us for air superiority since WW-II. It's time to take care of other problems.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (3, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | about 2 years ago | (#40878239)

The F-22 production line should be restarted, with limited exports allowed to Japan and Australia. Also, some portion (probably about 1/4) of F-35 production should be replaced by F-22 production.

Absolutely not. Neither the F-22 nor the F-35 are a "bargain" at close to a quarter billion dollars apiece, flyaway. As an aviation writer put it 30 years ago, "building a fighter with all the electronics of the starship Enterprise will do you no good if you can only afford two of them". We're at that point, budget-wise. We need a fighter that we can affordably build in quantity, or it's useless. Admiral Greenert was right. It's time to ditch the luxury car [usni.org] aircraft acquisition idea and go to flexible, cheaper "trucks" that we can build relatively quickly and in higher quantities. And as there is no proof that either the Russian Pak-Fa nor the Chinese J-20 are anything other technology demonstrators or outright Potemkin frauds to convince the West that "hey, we can do stealth too", we should probably just continue to build teen-series fighter with AESA radars. Nothing that the Russians or Chinese have that are in actual production are any better.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (1)

durdur (252098) | about 2 years ago | (#40879057)

Agree. F-35 program is a nightmare of cost overruns. And restarting the F-22 would be very expensive, too. When will we wake up and realize we've given a blank check to the military?

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (1)

Sollord (888521) | about 2 years ago | (#40879647)

This is true it would add about $70-80million to the fly-away cost of each new F-22 which would be around $240million each if we ordered 75 more but that goes down with each extra jet ordered but hey we can just buy them cheaper F-35s at $207mil a pop though that price seems to keep going up and up... was only supposed to be $133mil 2 years ago

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (2)

Loki_1929 (550940) | about 2 years ago | (#40879421)

Neither the F-22 nor the F-35 are a "bargain" at close to a quarter billion dollars apiece, flyaway.

Ahem, the F-22's flyaway cost is $150 Million. 150 is not "close" to 250. Further, if you streamline the F-22 production chain such that it isn't spread all over the country to force politicians to vote for its funding (or cut off jobs to their own people), it'll be closer to $125 Million flyaway cost.

By all means, take all the money from the F-35 program and feed it into an overhauled and streamlined F-22 production line to pump out as many air dominance aircraft as that'll get us. That buys us complete control of the skies anywhere and everywhere in the world for the next 25+ years if we don't bother developing any other aircraft between now and then. You cannot win a modern war militarily without control of the air. It simply cannot happen.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (2)

Sollord (888521) | about 2 years ago | (#40879587)

The fly away cost of an F-22 is $170million while the current and ever increasing fly away cost of an F-35A is $207.6 million. The R&D cost of the program adds $242million but that's R&D money that was already spent over the last 20 plus years. The F-22 cost $170million to physically build but people love to throw out the $400million+ figure with all sunk costs that's already been paid out. If we had built 400 of them it would of spread the $34billion dollars R&D costs out more and dropped it to $250Million from the $412million it is now make it 800 and it drops to $212M 1000 and it's $204Million which is $3 million less then an F-35A's fly-away cost as of 2011 and they want to buy 2,200 F-35s and the F-35B and F-35C cost at least $30million more then a F-35A and none of this takes into the account adding the R&D costs of the F-35 program which is projected to be at least $56billion only $22Billion more then the R&D costs of the F-22. As of right now each F-35 built this year costs $304million with current R&D costs added on to the $207million fly-away cost. /rants

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (4, Insightful)

Loki_1929 (550940) | about 2 years ago | (#40879395)

I agree with you about restarting the production lines of the F-22, but I can't disagree enough regarding exports. The F-22 represents 20+ years of the best R&D money can buy. Every part of that plane is filled with advanced tools that make it the most lethal air-to-air combat machine in the history of the world. I'm of the opinion that they shouldn't even as-yet be admitting the thing exists, let alone showing it off at airshows. While we don't have the complete picture, there's been enough public information leaked about the plane that even amateur fighter junkies have a fairly solid understanding of its capabilities. That means intelligence agencies and foreign militaries likely have an even better understanding of it. Does that mean they can then field planes to challenge it? Not in the next 20 years; no. At least not without pouring hundreds of billions into R&D in a massively accelerated program.

What would allow them to jump ahead in the R&D process cheaply? Getting in the cockpit, getting trained maintenance crew members to turn, etc. In the US, we have a massive counter-intelligence infrastructure capable of limiting that kind of risk. Not eliminating it, but minimizing it. If we start shipping this aircraft to other nations (even our best allies), we open the door to a Russia or a China to get their hands on exactly what they need to build an almost-as-good fighter in half the time. They'll not only use them to deter the US from threatening their interests around the world (because realistically, we aren't attacking each other directly, but countries like Georgia and Taiwan provide perfect examples of where this would come into play), but they'd also sell them to a lot of countries who would be happy to challenge the US directly (like Iran, North Korea, etc). That's just far, far too much of a risk to take.

The US military is counting on the F-22 (with upgrades along the way) to completely dominate the skies anywhere and everywhere in the world for the next 20-30 years. If someone else gets their hands on enough information to cut their R&D time and expense in half and build something that's nearly as capable, we've lost a massive air advantage. You cannot win a modern war militarily without control of the air. Right now, the F-22 gives us that hands-down. With the F-22, no country on Earth could field aircraft in any skies on Earth; including over their own soil. You really cannot underestimate what kind of deterrent that is to those who'd like to see our power balanced or who would like to take by force those who we protect.

So yes, the production line should be started by taking all future monies out of the F-35 program, but with one change: the entire production process should be completely overhauled to streamline it. When the F-22 production was begun, a political calculation was made to spread the program to as many states and districts as possible so that most politicians in Congress would have to choose between voting to fund the project and cutting off money and jobs to their own constituents. That drove up the cost of building the plane significantly (I've seen figures as high as $30 million per plane). By consolidating and streamlining the process, we'll be able to build many more F-22s with a lot less money.

I'd also note that it would be a huge mistake to try and add any significant ground attack capability to the plane. Our most successful aircraft do one job and do it well. The F-15 rules the skies. It does so wherever it goes and it's done beautifully. It kills planes. It's not great at doing a ton of ground attacking, but it doesn't need to. We have bombers hitting bombable targets and for moving targets we have another hugely specialized aircraft: the A-10. The A-10 is the pinnacle of anti-vehicle attack aircraft. You'd never fly A-10s in against enemy aircraft because that's not its job. The F-15s clear the skies and the A-10s clear the mobile ground targets. The F-22 should be a simple drop-in replacement for the aging F-15. The A-10 still does a fantastic job at what it does, so there seems to be no real reason to look for a replacement there. The B-2 does a fantastic job of nailing large or hardened ground targets. For small ground targets or ones in extremely difficult areas, we now have drones that can do the job just fine.

You give me a US Air Force with just F-22s (in reasonable numbers), A-10s, drones, and B-2s, and I'll clear any target in any place on the globe. It's likely most of those targets will be gone before the enemy even knows what's happening.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40881131)

"but they'd also sell them to a lot of countries who would be happy to challenge the US directly (like Iran, North Korea, etc)"

What drugs are you on?
Iran wants to challenge the US "directly"?
NK wants to challenge the US "directly"?

Both completely wrong statements.

Re:F-22 - without a doubt the world's best fighter (1)

hey! (33014) | about 2 years ago | (#40880097)

Er... wouldn't you make the decision to restart the line based, not on how much we like the aircraft, but how many we need?

Fatal? (1)

schwit1 (797399) | about 2 years ago | (#40877649)

How many deaths can be attributed to this problem?

The words fatal and death are not in the article.

Re:Fatal? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#40878085)

Just one, Air Force Capt. Jeffrey Haney, who crashed in Alaska in 2010. Of course that crash mightn't have the same underlying cause, but it was due to the pilot's oxygen supply failing.

Re:Fatal? (2)

Loki_1929 (550940) | about 2 years ago | (#40879545)

One known death associated with this issue.

Next, please look up the number of deaths associated with the F-16 potential wire chaffing problem (hint: dozens). Then, please look up deaths associated with all the various issues of the F-4 (hint: more). Then look up the deaths associated with design flaws in every combat aircraft ever produced.

Result: The F-22 is possibly the safest and most well-designed (nearly flawless) aircraft developed for combat in the history of air combat aircraft. It just so happens that in the era of 24-hour news, the Internet, and the high profile of that aircraft, we hear about every single issue in incredible detail. That's not a bad thing (transparency in government never is), but we need to keep perspective.

work at home (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40877753)

as Norma implied I am amazed that some people able to make $4245 in 4 weeks on the internet. did you look at this web site makecash16.com

I think they are covering up something else (1)

rikkards (98006) | about 2 years ago | (#40877973)

Otherwise why was ground crew supposedly affected as well? I remember reading something about that (can't remember where)

Re:I think they are covering up something else (3, Insightful)

Loki_1929 (550940) | about 2 years ago | (#40879473)

There were a handful of reports of some ground crew members experiencing some similar symptoms. However, any psychologist will tell you that could very easily be psychosomatic response to a perception that something about the aircraft causes those kinds of symptoms. If it were widely reported that the A-10 were giving the pilots skin cancer, the ground crews would see members freaking out over every bump, blister, rash, and zit they found for months afterwards.

I'm not saying they've 100% nailed this problem and case-closed. I'm only saying that the most logical thing to do is sit back in a wait-and-see mode until we find out whether pilots continue experiencing symptoms during flight. If pilots are still blacking out at (or close to) the rates from before the 'fix', then we have no actual fix. If pilots are pretty much all ok after this, then the ground crew reports are almost certainly unrelated to this particular issue.

Even better solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40878107)

Why not just make remote controlled jets. Just come up with a good and reliable wireless technology in order to have full control of a jet for hundreds of miles. No need to risk lives, and the jet can do all sorts of maneuvers without affecting the pilot. I don't understand why manned jet fighters are still being developed.

Re:Even better solution (1)

darkHanzz (2579493) | about 2 years ago | (#40878195)

Iran does understand the need for manned aircraft, ever since they were able to capture a drone bhy messing with it's GPS reception

Re:Even better solution (1)

nighthawk243 (2557486) | about 2 years ago | (#40878223)

Primarily because in the heat of combat, it is really difficult to replace the Mk.1's (Eyeballs).
Plus also, most fighter pilots find it hard to brag if they're flying from a desk. Most women at the bar are not going to give you the time of day if you're basically just a glorified flight sim pilot.

Whose problem? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#40878343)

a problem that has eluded Air Force engineers and scientists for four years has left some Air Force pilots skeptical that the USAF has solved the problem.

Wouldn't this be Lockheed Martin's problem? I mean, isn't there something in the aircraft spec that says pilots should be able to breath? So if they can't, you send it back and get it fixed. Just like a Toyota with a stuck accelerator.

Yeah, I know. Its a complex problem and the failure is somewhat subjective (pilot reports). Plus most DoD contractors have larger legal staffs than engineering, so warranty claims and associated costs can be deflected for years.

Re:Whose problem? (3, Informative)

Loki_1929 (550940) | about 2 years ago | (#40879509)

Building weapons of war works a little differently than building a Prius. Once the government accepts a contractors product as meeting the specifications requested, and so long as the contractor does not conceal relevant information from the government, it's nearly impossible to hold the contractor liable for defects in the design. Basically, we're asking Lockheed Martin to design and build the most complex flying machine ever imagined by mankind. It wouldn't be possible - let alone financially feasible - to expect each and every single aspect of the product to be perfect from day one, nor would it be viable to expect Lockheed to go back and find, diagnose, and fix every single problem in every single aircraft produced. It'd put military contractors out of business to do so (and that isn't fixing your planes either).

Now I completely agree that we should be doing a whole lot more to fix the issues of cost overruns without sacrificing quality control, but holding them to your average consumer product warranty isn't the answer. We'll end up with nobody left to build any of this stuff and nobody else willing to try.

who cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40879027)

the whole thing is/was a huge waste of money. there are so many better things that it could have been used for. most of these scumbag, government-dick sucking contractors should be imminent domained and the projects be done at cost. rarely any need for a private company to profit off our tax money. too bad politics gets in the way when shitstick congress people care more about getting these make-work jobs to their districts than the overall cost:quality ratio. this is where the most wasteful government spending is.

Carpets in Toyotas! (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 2 years ago | (#40879197)

(n/t)

Or (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40879343)

It's an incredibly complex machine with hundreds of thousands of variables.

Thank God.... (1)

musth (901919) | about 2 years ago | (#40879419)

...they've solved a problem that allows American high-tech trained killers to keep policing the world's skies for the empire.

Petroleum in pure 02 goes BOOM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40880593)

The collective IQ of slashdot seems to have fallen.

Anytime you are dealing with pure (or even high concentration) 02 you CANNOT use petroleum based lubes. It will go BOOM. Not something you want to happen near a $1,000,000 pilot in an $eleventy-billion dollar airplane.

O2 regulators used in oxy/acetylene welding have known to go boom when greasy fingers get near them.

There are DEFINITELY more than 4 lubes used on ANY aircraft. Any analog gauge will use a very light lube oil, shocks will use another, engine oil is another, bearing lube is another, hydraulic oil is another. That's 5 off the top of my head and that's in a simple GA prop aircraft.

Sweeping under the rug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40881209)

Maintenance staff who were in the cockpit and _not_ wearing the vests had hypoxia like symptoms. So it can't be the vest.

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