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Air Force Foresaw Fatal F-22 Problems; Rejected $100,000 Fix As Too Expensive

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the ounce-of-prevention dept.

The Military 232

McGruber writes "The Associated Press is reporting that years before F-22 stealth fighter pilots began getting dizzy in the cockpit, before one struggled to breathe as he tried to pull out of a fatal crash, before two more went on the '60 Minutes' television program to say the plane was so unsafe they refused to fly it, a small working group of U.S. Air Force experts knew something was wrong with the prized stealth fighter jet. This working group, called RAW-G, was created in 2002 at the suggestion of Daniel Wyman, then a flight surgeon at Florida's Tyndall Air Force Base, where the first F-22 squadron was being deployed. Wyman is now a brigadier general and the Air Combat Command surgeon general. RAW-G proposed a range of solutions by 2005, including adjustments to the flow of oxygen into pilot's masks. But that key recommendation was rejected by military officials reluctant to add costs to a program that was already well over budget. Kevin Divers, a former Air Force physiologist who led RAW-G until he left the service in 2007, believes the cost of adjusting the oxygen flow would have added about $100,000 to the cost of each $190 million aircraft."

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232 comments

Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492123)

Anyway the days of manned fighters is coming to an end.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (4, Interesting)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 2 years ago | (#41492171)

I doubt it. I think you're looking more at what we saw in Stealth. Unmanned fullsized fighter jets with advanced AI with the potential to house a man if desired. Unmanned drones aren't going to dogfight, and there still is a ton of need for more than an unmanned drone can provide, particularly since there are still uses for close combat air support vehicles like helicopters, A-10s, etc.

Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492427)

Dogfight? Dogfights are passe. A drone knocks out the other guy 100 miles out and if it doesn't, who gives a shit. Drones are relatively cheap - especially compared to the F-22.

Close combat with a drone? It's already here.

Let's face it, drones are a cheaper and safer alternative and they're getting better every day.

And planes like the F-22 have a serious defect: they are worthless against wave after after wave after wave of cheap planes. The F-22 would run out of bullets and missiles and while it's running away to get more, it'll get it's ass shot off or it's base blown to smithereens - LOTS of dead people.

And don't get me started on the disappointment of the F-35. Our current line up of planes are fine for current needs and we just need to replace our Air Force with all drones.

Our air force is not ready for future conflicts - we are still in this Cold War mentality. And if there is another big conflict, I'm afraid we will have a very rude awakening.

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (3, Insightful)

autocannon (2494106) | about 2 years ago | (#41492715)

Exactly right. The hundreds of thousands of fully functional, combat ready drones that Iran, China, and N. Korea each have will be the end of our air superiority.

The most advanced military in the world will be the only one flying jets with pilots in future wars. The video game logic of this AC's post is downright sad.

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | about 2 years ago | (#41492953)

The most advanced military in the world will be the only one flying jets with pilots in future wars. The video game logic of this AC's post is downright sad.

The AC does raise a point: non-conventional air warfare. What if this (extreme and unlikely scenario) occurred: an enemy force launches an extremely large flight of propeller-powered fighter/attack aircraft. Sure, our F/A-18s and such might blow them away until they run out of missiles. The dynamics between propeller (slow but extremely maneuverable) vs jet (fast but makes bigger turns) might prevent a gun-range, outnumbering dog-fight from playing out in our favor. This is before you get into details such as propeller planes not generating as much heat (and might require radar missiles instead of heat).

Lots of questions that our military should be asking but probably aren't as they are busy building their super-weapons. Worked out so well the last decade...

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41493047)

Um, yeah. I don't care how many propeller drones you scramble against F/A-18s, the speed and altitude discrepancies just never make it a contest. They're basically attack turtles - one is as useless as a dozen is as useless as a thousand.

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41493193)

Who said the attack turtles were targeting the rabbit? The point was with enough cheap units, it is conceivable to make air superiority governed by a few super-craft moot. And if you don't have (functional) air superiority anymore, you're now vulnerable to air attacks on ground targets, which would be a sudden shock to US forces that have grown accustomed to ruling the skies for so long.

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 2 years ago | (#41493171)

This is before you get into details such as propeller planes not generating as much heat (and might require radar missiles instead of heat).

Depends on what's driving the prop. If it's a piston engine then there's probably not much heat, but I'd imagine a turboprop would produce plenty of heat.

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | about 2 years ago | (#41493265)

What you're proposing wouldn't make much difference in our air superiority as:
- the jets would be able to return/reload/resume faster than more drones could be brought up
- ammunition could be used far outside the drones range by the jets to bring the drones down
- the jets tactical abilities are far superior to the drones, making close range combat useless
- the jets would be able to take down the drones before the drones would be able to detect the jets
- the jets would be able to buzz the drones, creating deadly turbulence for the drones in ways that drone operators would (and software) would not be able to easily account.
- the list goes on

Now if you put up 10,000 drones it would become difficult to take them all down before some reached their targets. But more likely than not, you would take one down and have a chain taken out with it - either by the fire that took it down, or by it running into (and cascading into) numerous drones, etc. And gain, 1 F-18/16/22 would be able to easily take out several hundred of those drones by itself beyond the range of the drone. (The heat signature would not even half to come into play.) And that's not even going up to the carpet bombing techniques that could be used as well.

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#41493295)

Ask yourself this question, however. Why does one actually fly fighter jets? They can't hold airspace indefinitely, and there is nothing in the sky to "own".

Fighters are there to ensure air superiority, and that means stopping other aircraft like ground attack aircraft and reconnaissance aircraft from getting through to affect your ground forces.

So, send up a bunch of piston fighters? Well your fighter jets simply ignore them. Huh? How is that possible? Because the piston fighters can't stop your jet powered ground attack craft. They're too slow to intercept before the modern craft get into range of their superior weapons. If you use slow fighters against modern ground attack or recon craft, they are pointless. And so the standard answer that the modern fighter jet has for the piston fighter is to simply ignore them.

Waves of Red Chinese tend to work against you on the ground because, for the most part, they are just as fast as you are, and you are forced to stay in one place to hold a patch of ground. This allows their numbers to concentrate because you can't outmaneuver them. Modern fighters can select their targets based on threat level and outmaneuver any that they don't have the ammo to engage freely.

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (2)

frosty_tsm (933163) | about 2 years ago | (#41493661)

For air superiority, you hit all the points. What about when the prop planes turn on the ground or naval forces (the scenario I suggested was F/A prop planes)?

Remember that the Bismark was caught because the British torpedo planes were too damn slow for their AA to hit.

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41493299)

Do you have any idea how many Cessna 172's are located in the US? A 12 gauge shotgun and a 172 would have those things in pieces. It be like goose season.

That, my friends, is why we have the Second Amendment.

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (2)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 2 years ago | (#41493383)

Do you remember what happened in Korea, World War 2, and(IIRC) Vietnam when those scenarios occurred? It didn't end well for the people in prop planes. The Me262 was ridiculously good in the air despite some very serious deficiencies(it was the first production fighter jet afterall), and most of the losses occurred during the very long takeoff and landing patterns, something that is not a problem on modern jets.

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41493147)

Lets say that China looses it's marbles and decides to go after the US, how quickly do you think they could start producing drones by the thousands?

Iran has already claimed to have reverse engineered the one they captured and are producing drones based on that, but I'm sure that is a load of bullshit considering their past statements.

The most advanced military in the world will be the only one flying jets with pilots in future wars

Actually to help with jamming issues and such I think a drone mothership is the future of drone control. So a manned jet that controls all the other drones near it.

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (5, Interesting)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#41492991)

Dogfight? Dogfights are passe. A drone knocks out the other guy 100 miles out and if it doesn't, who gives a shit. Drones are relatively cheap - especially compared to the F-22.

They said the same thing about missles. And it was just as wrong then int eh 50's and 60's as it is now.
Vietnam proved them wrong, and all of a sudden the replacements to the F4 needed to have dogfight capability.

Close combat with a drone? It's already here.

No, it's not.

Let's face it, drones are a cheaper and safer alternative and they're getting better every day.

They are also more limited, and less capable.

And planes like the F-22 have a serious defect: they are worthless against wave after after wave after wave of cheap planes. The F-22 would run out of bullets and missiles and while it's running away to get more, it'll get it's ass shot off or it's base blown to smithereens - LOTS of dead people.

Wave after wave doesn't happen. As it stands the F22 was designed to meet the goal of taking on 16 - 1 odds and winning, a requirement that was seen as unlikely already because the worst case plausible scenario is 8 to 1, with 4 - 1 being the most likely scenario. Combat flights never fly alone to start with, always in at least pairs, if not 4 together.

Simply put, your claim of "wave after wave" is a fine hypothetical, but simply does not exist in the real world. A combat flight of 4 F22 has the theoretical max capability to take on 72 enemy aircraft. That's 6 squadrons worth. An entire deployed F22 squadron of 12 planes could take on 192 enemy aircraft. the F22, by being stealth, is essentially the Rogue class of air dominance: it is better able to dictate the terms of the fight, striking more targets from a longer distance without warning than any potential enemy aircraft is capable of.

And it would get its ass shot off should it turn to run? How? You forget that the F22 is stealth? That its faster than any credible threat? It's countermeasures are second to none? That it is engaging the inital targets from farther away than they can? In order to shoot its ass off, you have to be close enough to do so, and able to get a target. The whole point is the F22 denies both possibilities. Even if the F22 ere surprised and forced into a close in dogfight if the chance should come to disengage it could clear the area much quicker than any enemy aircraft.

And don't get me started on the disappointment of the F-35. Our current line up of planes are fine for current needs and we just need to replace our Air Force with all drones.

Our air force is not ready for future conflicts - we are still in this Cold War mentality. And if there is another big conflict, I'm afraid we will have a very rude awakening.

The F35 is not designed for air dominance. It could perform such a role, by virtue of being more capable than most enemy combatants, but it's meant to be a multi-prupose, jack of all trades. The F22 is designed for one thing and one thng only: denying the enemy control of airspace. If you honestly think the current line up is fine, and the drones can do all, you're just another armchair quarterback second guessing the refs who've been doing it for years.

Plus its illogical to state that ouor current line up is fine, and then next say our air force is not ready....you cannot have it both ways. They are mutually exclusive statements.

Your entire post is 100% clueless.

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 2 years ago | (#41493093)

Simply put, your claim of "wave after wave" is a fine hypothetical, ... And it would get its ass shot off should it turn to run? How? You forget that the F22 is stealth? That its faster than any credible threat?

Perhaps the parent was imagining wave after wave of armed, enemy SR-71 Blackbirds... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#41493579)

Drones can do it all, so long as whomever you're fighting has no appreciable airforce, or is unwilling to risk any pilots or resources on the air component of operations.

Against a capably armed adversary is a whole other ball game. And the problem is that 10 years from now you don't know who you might be at war with, or for what. Whomever you're up against might have drones, might be able to jam drones, might be able to trivially shoot down most of the 'ground support' type drones etc. no one knows.

Against an enemy willing to shoot down or jam your communications satellites drones become a lot less useful. If the Russians or chinese figure out how to make a 'drone killer' kit for 10 grand that can shoot down reaper drones for 10 000 bucks suddenly they become a lot less useful. Trying to build an unmanned replacement for a full aircraft has some advantages (no pilot makes the plane a lot easier to design aerodynamically), but you're then either relying on AI or remote piloting to run the thing, and both of those come with their own problems.

They said the same thing about missles. And it was just as wrong then int eh 50's and 60's as it is now.
Vietnam proved them wrong, and all of a sudden the replacements to the F4 needed to have dogfight capability.

And when was the last air to air dogfight with guns? How often (as a percentage of air combat) does that happen? Most of the air -air engagements of the last 30 years have been missile driven, with a relatively poor 'missiles fired to planes killed' success ratio. The falklands, where the UK was using harriers and the argies using Vietnam era fighters is the last gun to gun dogfight I know of, but I'm by no means and expert and the documentation I can find doesn't distinguish between missiles or guns. And just because no one has done it lately doesn't mean they can't. The reason you still put guns on things isn't so much that you expect there to be gun level dogfights as the fact that you don't want to be caught with a knife at a gunfight so to speak.

We have to be careful here to distinguish between 'BVR' (beyond visual range) kills, and missles vs. guns, those are, I think, separate debates. Lots of air combat is becoming BVR, but just because it's visual range doesn't mean you don't use missiles.

As it stands the F22 was designed to meet the goal of taking on 16 - 1 odds and winning

That's a nonsense talking point if I ever heard one. What are you a conservative in the US Air force? You can design for whatever the hell you want, that doesn't mean it can actually do it in practice. You think the Brazillians, or the North Koreans or god knows who is going to show up to a fight with 20 year old aircraft that you can take down 16 to 1? Right. Depends on who you're up against. Pakistani F16 C/D's are a very different problem than a North Korean MIG 21, or a Saudi EuroFighter. In a 1v1 against a Eurofighter at long range I'd be thinking it's a lot more about the missiles than the airplane, and in that situation both aircraft don't look all that promising.

You forget that the F22 is stealth?

You think the F22 is stealth. That's cute. The russians and chinese have other ideas. And you know. Radar researchers.

Your entire post is 100% clueless.

And your post is about 25% naive and myopic talking points. It's like you've bought into your own countries propaganda about just how capable it is.

Virtually all military procurement is about trying to find the best platform for the types of problems you might face, and then getting the best thing you can with the money you have. That applies as much to Monaco and their 250 person military as it does to China and their 2.3 million. The US faces the unfortunate problem of needing to be capable of fighting virtually everyone in the world, so I agree, there's a place for dones, there's a place for manned aircraft, and there's a place for the rest of us to be capable to shooting both down.

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (1)

beh (4759) | about 2 years ago | (#41493637)

And planes like the F-22 have a serious defect: they are worthless against wave after after wave after wave of cheap planes. The F-22 would run out of bullets and missiles and while it's running away to get more, it'll get it's ass shot off or it's base blown to smithereens - LOTS of dead people.

Wave after wave doesn't happen. [...]

Are you really sure about that - I would agree maybe on the strictest terms: 'it DOES not happen' - the question is how long before it WILL happen?

It may not be 'wave after wave' - but with drones becoming 'cheaper', particularly if they were to be mass-produced - any idea how an advanced plane like the F22 will deal with a couple of dozen drones heading their way? Even if they managed to shoot down 8 or 10 - if those 8-10 drones still manage to get shots fired, they will likely cause enough problems for the advanced plane as well.

1:1 the drone might not have a chance - 5:1 the drones might still have problems.... 10-20:1, and there might be so many bullets and other ammo in the air around the more advanced plane that it will be shredded just as well - and likely with a good number of drones still left...

But, yes, right now, that might not be a big issue - YET...

From my point of view, the biggest problems we're getting with these drones, as that now that they're "proven" to work, it won't be long before some 3rd world dictators will get their hands on some... Can you imagine, how a citizens revolt like in Libya or now Syria would have ended with more and more autonomous weapons on the side of the dictator? I don't quite see drones 'switching sides' when seeing the misery they're bringing over their victims...

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 2 years ago | (#41493035)

What drone provides the capabilities of an A-10 or AH-64? What about drones that provide the capabilities of a F-22? What about drones that provide the capabilities of a P-47? Drones serve a purpose, but as of right now drones are very light aircraft carrying very small payloads. They're very useful for certain aspects of asymmetric warfare from a combat perspective, but they have a long ways to go in replacing manned aircraft simply because of what current-day manned aircraft can do that a drone cannot, and will have trouble doing(the latency alone from using satellites to drive the drones is enough to make them unfit for many combat roles today regardless of hardware).

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41493231)

100 miles? The F14 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman_F-14_Tomcat had the ability to track 24 targets and attack more than 4 targets simultaneously at a 60 miles distance (thats ~1975). Drones are good for dealing with an underdeveloped enemy but when it comes to other countries like Russia and China or even Iran, you need a pilot in the cockpit.

Re:Drones are dirt cheap and no pilot dies. (1)

zerodl (817292) | about 2 years ago | (#41493235)

Every time I hear about this jet it's never good. Biased or not. I think it was only made for just squeezing taxpayer money so Lockheed(?) Could get revenue. like other military contractors.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492197)

In a couple aircraft generations. There's no drone which even comes close to being able to go head-to-head with actual in-aircraft pilots yet. Air-to-ground attack is one thing. Air-to-air is not so easy.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (3, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#41492315)

Send up 100, $1,000,000 drones with a single missile for each $190M fighter aircraft and see who wins. It's the air version of the disposable boat gambit in naval surface warfare.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (5, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 2 years ago | (#41492425)

Send up 100, $1,000,000 drones with a single missile for each $190M fighter aircraft and see who wins.

The guy who takes out their ground control stations wins.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#41492471)

True, but then you'd have to get through 100 drones per attacking aircraft, wouldn't you!

(And who puts control of a fleet like that under a single command location. I mean, except for the Empire.)

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 2 years ago | (#41492653)

True, but then you'd have to get through 100 drones per attacking aircraft, wouldn't you!

That's what the initial wave of cruise missiles is for.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

zlives (2009072) | about 2 years ago | (#41493061)

I agree cruise missile negate the use of drones and planes :)

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 2 years ago | (#41493099)

You mean the Trade Federation. The Empire used clones to get around this problem.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492501)

True, but that also assumes the stations are anywhere near the battlefield

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492539)

There is such as thing called latency. It is pretty well known for any online gamers. Have fun trying to control stuff interactive half way around the world with 100+ms latency.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#41492623)

100+ms latency? Who cars when you have robots on mars that you control.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492831)

They just need better net code.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about 2 years ago | (#41492977)

They just need better net code.

As Torvalds once said: Talk is cheap. Show me the code.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492833)

Or just 100 missiles with fuel tanks that can fly around in circles and loiter to wait for a target.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 2 years ago | (#41492893)

If you can write code to drive a car 300K miles without any human intervention, you can write code to have an armed aircraft engage other aircraft.

Ground stations are for the unprepared.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 2 years ago | (#41493395)

Well. I guess you could just alter the code so that instead of avoiding near objects it seeks out near objects to strike.

I suspect adding a 3rd dimension and a number of targets that are seeking to kill you creates a bit of difficulty compared to 2 dimensional environment where most targets are not trying to hit you.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492591)

Ah, slashdot military threads. All the video game-playing armchair expert neckbeards pipe up and tell how it really should be done. Protip: You Have No Fucking Idea What You're Talking About. HAND.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (0)

zlives (2009072) | about 2 years ago | (#41493087)

thanks AC, now shut your yap and go back to 4chan

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41493343)

"Those who know don't say; those who say don't know."

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 years ago | (#41492663)

I see you $100 million dollars in drones and raise you a signal jammer.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

Rytr23 (704409) | about 2 years ago | (#41492783)

How would a jammer be effective against autonomous drones? If you had said EMP....t.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | about 2 years ago | (#41492937)

An EMP capable of taking things out at a range large enough to down an air campaign would be equally effective against manned fighter jets, which also rely on equally advanced electronics, and would also probably take out most of your own infrastructure within range.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 2 years ago | (#41493075)

I see you $100 million dollars in drones and raise you a signal jammer.

The guy who takes out the signal jammer wins.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

ElWojo (904121) | about 2 years ago | (#41492987)

I wonder how well those drones would perform if comms were jammed during that encounter? And what type of $1M drone is going to be able to fly and turn fast enough to even get close to a F-22?

You have the right idea for some applications - but for air superiority the F-22 is as good as it gets in the modern era.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#41493439)

Send up 100, $1,000,000 drones with a single missile for each $190M fighter aircraft and see who wins. It's the air version of the disposable boat gambit in naval surface warfare.

So, put up one aircraft with a powerful EW package on the side of the manned fighters. Then watch 100 drones turn into million dollar inert gliders as their control signal is completely disrupted.

Get back to me when the drones start being piloted by independent AIs.

Re:Penny wise; pound foolish. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41493531)

Send up 100, $1,000,000 drones with a single missile for each $190M fighter aircraft and see who wins. It's the air version of the disposable boat gambit in naval surface warfare.

If you could figure out how to make an autonomous drone capable of engaging a modern fighter plan and avoiding common air defenses for less than 1M each, you should go into business.

Last I checked the global hawk was about 35M each, wasn't autonomous and definitely couldn't penetrate modern air defenses. (I'll give you that it could probably launch an AA missle, assuming it could get close enough to it's target with it's relatively low top speed)

Cost... (1)

omkhar (167195) | about 2 years ago | (#41492131)

But would that 100K 1 time cost, have led to a much more expensive battery of tests to re-validate the entire aircraft?

Its like a 2 line code change that causes 100hrs of test cases.

Re:Cost... (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 2 years ago | (#41492173)

Compared to the cost of training new pilots to replace the ones that died?

Re:Cost... (3, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#41492253)

Compared to the cost of training new pilots to replace the ones that died?

Even if the fix saved just one aircraft, that's a $190M savings. That's a pretty good return on investment.

Re:Cost... (5, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#41492415)

Here, buy my patented tiger-repellant rock. $50.

Hey, if it saves you a $10,000 dollar funeral from a tiger attack, that's a $9,950 savings. Good ROI.

The difference is how realistically you assess the POI, as they call it in engineering-management-speak: Probabilty of Incidence. (Or "POO", Probability of Occurrence. I like that one. Anything that reminds me of all the crap in a big program's management and engineering environment makes me smile).

So anyway, if you convince yourself it's not going to happen, you save yourself $x dollars (more than $100k, I assure you) and you leave your time on the PM team with awards for keeping cost and schedule escalation under control. If you spend the $100k, you will never EVER be able to prove it was well invested, because the incident that doesn't happen because of your precautions is indistinguishable that the incident that doesn't happen because it was impossible from the outset.

Sorry. It's a numbers game. Something that's not absolutely not guaranteed to happen WILL NOT HAPPEN in order to justify not paying for prevention.

There's a corollary to this. I usually express it by paraphrasing an old saying in Safety Engineering: "Safety decisions are written in blood."

Re:Cost... (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#41492669)

Here, buy my patented tiger-repellant rock. $50.

Hey, if it saves you a $10,000 dollar funeral from a tiger attack, that's a $9,950 savings. Good ROI.

The difference is how realistically you assess the POI, as they call it in engineering-management-speak: Probabilty of Incidence. (Or "POO", Probability of Occurrence. I like that one. Anything that reminds me of all the crap in a big program's management and engineering environment makes me smile).

If it can be shown that this $100,000 "fix" really would have prevented the problem, then the process they used to assess the replacement was faulty. It's easy in retrospect to say that they made the wrong decision, but the value in doing so is that the whole process used to arrive at the decision can be analyzed and improved.

Sorry. It's a numbers game. Something that's not absolutely not guaranteed to happen WILL NOT HAPPEN in order to justify not paying for prevention.

There's a corollary to this. I usually express it by paraphrasing an old saying in Safety Engineering: "Safety decisions are written in blood."

I don't think that's true - there is no guarantee that any particular piece of the hydraulic system will fail, yet there is redundancy built it to those systems because it's likely that it will happen. There's no guarantee that a plane will suffer damage such that it's uncontrollable, but not so damaged that a pilot can eject, but they still put expensive ejection seats into military jets. There's a cost-benefit decision for every project (sometimes the cost is weight or complexity, but it's still a cost). It sounds like they may have made the wrong decision in this case.

Re:Cost... (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#41493511)

Ejection seats were an engineering answer to the conflict between an organic requirement (pilot must be able to bail out) and the increased speed of jet aircraft, which made it impossible to bail out safely by just opening a canopy and climbing out with a parachute. And I assure you, the need to resolve this conflict wasn't uncovered in a think tank of life-support system engineers saying "I bet the pilot won't be able to just climb out." Pilots were injured or killed bailing out of fast-moving non-jet aircraft in the propeller-power combat aviation era, and even then ejection seats weren't prevalent until jet-powered planes made it clear that bailing out unassisted was a non-survivable option for high-performance jet aircrews. This would be an example of the rule about including powered egress systems into jet warplanes being written in the blood of those who died trying to escape a fast-moving plane without an ejection seat.

Re:Cost... (1)

CubicleZombie (2590497) | about 2 years ago | (#41493517)

Here, buy my patented tiger-repellant rock. $50.

Your $50 rock will cost $100,000 after CMMI and all the government certification processes.

And don't forget overhead.

Re:Cost... (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#41492299)

Cynically speaking, handwaving the risk away costs absolutely nothing until something bad happens. So the $0 immediate cost of doing nothing usually wins.

Shortsighted, true. But most program managers are on a program just a few years, and probably count on being able to escape the impact zone of the scandal before the program craters. Again, cynical, but in my observation, true to varying degrees.

Re:Cost... (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 2 years ago | (#41492583)

Sadly, too often, the attitude is, "Oh, that problem isn't going to be as bad as the engineers are making it out to be."

Usually, in this case, the engineers are right, and the guy who made the bad decision is long gone, the engineers have to work shit-tons of overtime to deal with a massive fire that would've been far easier to fix years earlier.

It's typical American financial management - Anything more than a year or two out just doesn't matter to anyone any more.

Re:Cost... (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 2 years ago | (#41493251)

It's typical American financial management - Anything more than a quarter or two out just doesn't matter to anyone any more.

FTFY

Re:Cost... (1)

nighthawk243 (2557486) | about 2 years ago | (#41492305)

Not even including the life insurance policies that most pilots would have. Back in 1996, it was about $250,000 when my father passed due to Benzene induced leukemia (since the USAF was Benzene happy at the time). That didn't even include the MGIB chapter 35 benefits and Tricare benefits I and my sister received. A quick look at the current policy shows it as $400,000. You could retrofit at least 4+ jets for the cost of killing one pilot.

Re:Cost... (4, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#41492407)

Not even including the life insurance policies that most pilots would have. Back in 1996, it was about $250,000 when my father passed due to Benzene induced leukemia (since the USAF was Benzene happy at the time). That didn't even include the MGIB chapter 35 benefits and Tricare benefits I and my sister received. A quick look at the current policy shows it as $400,000. You could retrofit at least 4+ jets for the cost of killing one pilot.

The pilot training costs dwarf insurance payouts. This article [airforcetimes.com] says it costs $2.8M to train a fighter pilot.

Re:Cost... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41492445)

The pilots ejected, but each damned plane is worth a lot more than $100k. Spending dimes to save pennies.

Re:Cost... (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 2 years ago | (#41493069)

From the summary:

"The Associated Press is reporting that years before F-22 stealth fighter pilots began getting dizzy in the cockpit, before one struggled to breathe as he tried to pull out of a fatal crash"

Emphasis on the "fatal" part; i.e. he didn't eject.

Doesnt sound realistic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492161)

1 plane crash because of the issue would cause a cost equivalent to 1900 planes being fixed (assuming a 0 cost of life and training)
Assuming that not a single plane would crash because of this would be wrong
Probably some other reason that hasnt been dislosed behind the lack of a fix?

Odd solution (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492207)

The solution was to add a DoD toilet to each aircraft?

$100k? (1)

4wdloop (1031398) | about 2 years ago | (#41492211)

"RAW-G recommended more tests and that the F-22’s oxygen delivery system be adjusted through a digital controller and a software upgrade."

So the $100kis average-per-plane of cost of testing side effects of more oxygen on pilots?

Tragic, but maybe understated (4, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#41492249)

No denying that shaving off so little and leaving the program and the warfighters at such known risk was a tragic mistake. But I don't know the genesis of the $100,000 cost for software mods. TBH, the Engineering Change Proposal process required to convey the modified requirements in order to change the software as directed may have required more than that much cost just in terms of specification and process costs. Add to that the uptick in formal requirements verification costs, and program schedule delays by adding yet another function point to the development schedule of an already-late program.

No matter what it cost, it would have been worth it, but keep an open mind as to whether a mere $.1 million upper over the program costs is credible.

Remember, this is a DoD development program regulated by the Federal Acquisition Regulations and DoD Systems Architecture and Engineering processes. There is no such thing as a cheap change to program baseline.

Re:Tragic, but maybe understated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492687)

The thing is, this is too little information.

Let me present a scenario: there were 1000 working groups set down that identified 1000 possible changes each coming in at 100,000 dollars, which would have added 100 million dollars to the cost of each plane if every one was approved.

We also say it is impossible to know precisely which proposal will lead to a crash if it's not followed, so either all had to be approved or all had to be rejected according to one consistent policy.

In that case, by rejecting all of them huge amounts of money were saved.

OR: maybe only 1 working group proposed only 1 change that was rejected. In this case, the policy of rejection obviously lost money.

Which of these applies? It's impossible to say, we don't have the information.

I wonder if there is a briefer way to state the principle above.

Re:Tragic, but maybe understated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41493373)

It sounds related to the "trials penalty" used in several fields when doing many statistical tests on the same data. If you set your significance threshold on one statistical test such that the probability of a false positive is 0.1%, then if you get a positive, you are pretty confident it is real. However, if you then go and perform a thousand tests (say, searching for a thousand different frequencies in some waveform data) and ask "did you find anything?" then the probability of a false positive to that question is (1 - 0.999**1000) = 0.63 = 63%! As a result, you have raise your significance threshold per test to a much higher level to ensure you don't get a false positive on the full set of trials.

Re:Tragic, but maybe understated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492691)

$100,000 PER PLANE. The English reading deficit of computer geeks never ceases to amaze me. Just finish reading the sentence! "Would have added about $100,000 to the cost of ---->each $190 million aircraft.---"

$100k x 122 = $12.2M (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 2 years ago | (#41493437)

Wish I had the mod points ... so hopefully this message will prompt others to mod you up, rather than the grandparent who likely posted w/out fully reading the article (or summary).

Bad at estimates (3, Insightful)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 2 years ago | (#41492259)

Air Force physiologist who led RAW-G until he left the service in 2007, believes the cost of adjusting the oxygen flow would have added about $100,000 to the cost of each $190 million aircraft

The air force doesn't do anything for $100,000
Who take seriously the estimates a physiologist would give to an engineering problem.

Re:Bad at estimates (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 2 years ago | (#41492359)

Per aircraft. They built 195 of them to date, so the program to fix the whole fleet would cost about $20 million.

Re:Bad at estimates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492549)

vs. the cost of how many of these $190M airplanes that have been lost due to this issue?

Yuo fail i7... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492283)

1. Therefore it's

Not so fast (5, Interesting)

rillopy (650792) | about 2 years ago | (#41492303)

If you read past page 1, what RAW-G warned about isn't even quite what had been happening recently:

"The link between oxygen saturation at lower altitudes and the recent spate of hypoxia-like incidents at high altitudes remains a matter of debate, and it is likely that there are other contributing factors."

But don't let that get in the way of headlines.

Costs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492309)

Well, at $100k per plane, it's far cheaper to not make that fix and simply loose a few $190M aircraft.

Um...wait..

Oh, nevermind, this is government accounting. Everything adds up.

Hard to believe (3, Informative)

llZENll (545605) | about 2 years ago | (#41492357)

On one hand you can say that arguing this now is ridiculous now that we know it is actually a problem, there are probably 100's of other things that were budget slashed and worked out fine. On the other hand the entire reason the plane costs 190 million is because every single transistor and bolt in the aircraft is backed by millions of hours of testing and fail-over systems and with such a high priority placed on safety and reliability it seems ludicrous that they would skimp on safety to the pilot. You have to draw the line somewhere though, turns out someone was wrong and is now a higher up, and in true CYA fashion the problem is buried rather than fixed.

Working for Lockheed Martin, I saw this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492367)

DO YOUR BEST WORK OUR YOUNG MENS LIVES RIDE ON IT:2010 -> http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1898806&cid=34472826 [slashdot.org]

* I wrote about it here a couple years ago, & it made me sick (but aware of HOW the "real world" actually does work) - what if it was YOUR (insert relative/loved one here) WAS RIDING ON IT?

At the time, it was one of mine doing so (surviving 2 wars now, he's part of that SAME "military industrial complex" now, & is a Bronze-Star decorated field-grade officer (Major))...

Folks?

It's "ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS" & keeping them out of YOUR POCKET as "normal folks" ( & enriching the "investment class 1%'ers" all the more...)

APK

P.S.=> That's what you GET when GREED, rules!

It's what you GET, when wealth distribution is SO "F'd UP" that MOST PEOPLE lives lives of "quiet desperation" alright:

Folks taking shit and listening to "managers" (who most have very little hands-on product knowledge in whatever it is they're making + selling) & their "plans" (merely more crookery coming from "boards of directors" & marketers)

Those "schemes" shit their companies up even MORE, meaning job cuts occur even more (while they offshore labor & import more, stopping the U.S. Citizen from having a job & spending their disposable income INSIDE our borders on product made here) - why?

Well - product quality in materials + payrolls? EASIEST "cost centers" to control is why...

... apk

Re:Working for Lockheed Martin, I saw this (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492441)

What does any of that have to do with blocking ads with a hosts file? You're out of your league boy.

Re:Working for Lockheed Martin, I saw this (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492537)

He didn't mention hosts or ads. What's your off topic trolling for?

Re:Working for Lockheed Martin, I saw this (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492601)

I need that expressed in terms of a custom hosts file.

Re:Working for Lockheed Martin, I saw this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492693)

You need to get on topic troll.

Re:Working for Lockheed Martin, I saw this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41493225)

Oh, and I just LOVE getting anally violated by large women.

APK

Impersonating me now (or, trying to)? Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41493355)

"Oh, and I just LOVE getting anally violated by large women.

APK" - by Anonymous Coward A SCUMBAG TROLL TRYING TO "IMPERSONATE ME" & TO WEAKLY "DISCREDIT ME" on Friday September 28, @04:22PM (#41493225)

See subject-line above & this, troll: GROW UP!

* You truly have "issues"...

( & you FAIL also, of course, since I "caught you in the act", red-handed!)

APK

P.S.=> However, your particular brand of idiocy here, in *trying* to "impersonate" me? Not a first, & not even ORIGINAL...

... apk

Look, let me see what I can do for you. (4, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#41492377)

Well, Brigadier General, you are driving a hard bargain. Here's what I'm gonna do? The trim line and the auto dimming mirrors are going to be totally free. I am taking them off. Also free floor mats. Free. Totally free. I had already taken ADM and DPC off. Now what do you want me to do? Oxygen flow control for high altitudes? Man, I will go and talk to the manager. But you know what, he is not going to give in. These things are 100K, for Pete's sake. We can't keep throwing things in and still put food on the table for missus and kids, you know. Just consider it. The number I gave you, 190 million that is probably the lowest we are gonna go and we can't go any lower. OK? And another thing, this deal is off after 5PM today. We got a deadline and you shop around all you want. But if I am not getting the order in before 5PM I am not making quota, and this quarter is gone and we need wait for new pricing promotion data from the factory for the next quarter. OK General. 5PM today. Final. And this is the last trip I am making to the manager. And I am telling you. He is not throwing in the oxygen flow control for free. Definite. I'm positive.

ADM = Additional Dealer Markup

DPC = Deal promotional charges

Re:Look, let me see what I can do for you. (1)

nharmon (97591) | about 2 years ago | (#41492863)

Well, we've never done this before. But seeing as it's special circumstances and all, he says I can knock a hundred dollars off that Trucoat.

$100k to restore an $190m machine? Deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492385)

"We have a choice to either squander $xy billion in state-of-the-art F-22s to the aircraft graveyards, or increase their costs by 0.0005%."
"Meh, junk em'."

Re:$100k to restore an $190m machine? Deal. (1)

lightknight (213164) | about 2 years ago | (#41492535)

Mmmm. Where there's smoke, there's usually a fire. Makes you wonder what other things might be wrong with them.

Hindsight is 20/20 (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#41492389)

This is, by the way, how a $90M aircraft quickly grows to be a $190M aircraft. It's not one thing that sends a project over budget, it's a series of cascading events each with a minor impact on the design which causes over-runs. It may very well be that this was a good idea overlooked, but there are literally thousands of these good ideas in a product cycle like a modern aircraft.

Re:Hindsight is 20/20 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492673)

Scope creep is a bitch. :(

Although technically, this is a requirements noncompliance... So it isn't scope creep.

Now if you want to see scope creep at its worst, look at VH-71... The program went something like:

Navy: We need a new helicopter for the President. Here are the requirements.
Multiple contractors: Here is our bid
Navy: Hey Lockheed, we like your proposal
Lockheed: Thanks
White House: Hey, Lockheed and Navy - We need these additional features X, Y, and Z. We can't tell you why, but if we don't have them, The Terrorists Will Win!!! (Remember, this is during the Bush era, and anything Bush wanted, Bush got by claiming the terrorists would win if he didn't get it.)
Lockheed: It'll cost $shitton (because baseline changes are expensive)
White House: OK, can't let the terrorists win, no matter what the costs!

End result: Program MASSIVELY over budget. What was envisioned to be an improved presidential transport morphed into an overweight flying tank.

190'000'000$ vs 100'000$ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492395)

Damn, if the american school system would not be the last crap on earth, i would be able to calculate how many retrofits they could have paid for with the money for the one F22 that crashed because of this problem...

How much? (2)

Minwee (522556) | about 2 years ago | (#41492437)

the cost of adjusting the oxygen flow would have added about $100,000 to the cost of each $190 million aircraft.

That's pretty cheap for an aircraft that cost $412 million a piece. And that's just development and production costs, not even touching TCO.

Lockheed-Martin is full of people who didn't want to be the one guy who tacked an extra $100,000 onto the already astronomical cost of the F-22 and then had to justify it. The buck got passed until it was fumbled, and now here we are with a fighter that has killed more of its own pilots than any enemy.

Re:How much? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492545)

the cost of adjusting the oxygen flow would have added about $100,000 to the cost of each $190 million aircraft.

That's pretty cheap for an aircraft that cost $412 million a piece. And that's just development and production costs, not even touching TCO.

Lockheed-Martin is full of people who didn't want to be the one guy who tacked an extra $100,000 onto the already astronomical cost of the F-22 and then had to justify it. The buck got passed until it was fumbled, and now here we are with a fighter that has killed more of its own pilots than any enemy.

How do you think it got to be that expensive in the first place?

Not because anyone set out to spend literally hundreds of millions per place.

They got to be that expensive because of lots of little changes just like this one.

so, let me get this straight... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#41492443)

For an increased cost of roughly .05%, the pilot gets to breathe. Seems like money well spent.

Cost/benfit analysis (safety doesn't sell) (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41492575)

Lee Iaccoca [engineering.com] must be advising the Air Force...

Article is incorrect, editors ignorant, news at 10 (5, Insightful)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | about 2 years ago | (#41492637)

The problem was not the aircraft and was not the oxygen flow. The solution was found to be overinflation of the pilots upper G-suit ("Combat Edge") that had been occuring for years and in aircraft such as the F-16 and F-15 but no on noticed it then.

Here is a link to the USAF describing the problem and fix:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-24/oxygen-problem-with-f-22-now-solved-pentagon-s-little-says.html [bloomberg.com]

As a secondary precaution the F-22 is also having a particle filter removed from the air supply (the topic of this Slashdot article) but this is not the primary fix.

The "Raptor cough" which (nugget?) pilots got spooked about is actually common for pilots flying all high-performance jets after performing high-G manuevers. It just happens that the performance of the F-22 is good enough that a lot of these maneuvers can be performed before energy bleeds off enough you can pull them (that is, the Raptor can use them to end nearly all Within Visual Range training encounters - although lesser aircraft occasionally beat less experienced Raptor pilots from time-to-time, which opponents of the Raptor love to crow about). The medical name of this acceleration-induced coughing is.
acceleration atelectasis
Please refer to: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/combat-edge-anti-g-ensemble-might-be-causing-raptors-oxygen-woes-372642/ [flightglobal.com]

So please could everyone stop with the media-included scaremongering and stop blaming the F-22 or invoke spooky and mysterious illnessed that pilots of that aircraft are afflicted with (ignoring that fact that the G-suit issue and acceleration atelectatis occurs on other aircraft, just less often because the F-15 and F-16 are relatively lower performance [lol, never thought I'd say that] compared to the F-22).

Now you whippersnappers get off my flight deck!

Re:Article is incorrect, editors ignorant, news at (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492939)

That.

Also, the F-22 /already has/ a backup oxygen supply, contrary to the assertion made by this article. The fixes proposed in the $100K/per retrofit were over-priced ($200 worth of parts and 2 hours of labor at $100K?), and would have created unnecessary redundancies. Contrary to popular belief, the Pentagon does, occasionally, know what the frack it's talking about.

There are many questions here (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 2 years ago | (#41492695)

One of those questions: why in the hell do we need to spend $190M on a plane to fight a war that we'd never get in if we didn't have jackasses running our country that only get in these fights because they have the biggest stick.

I think I answered my own question.

Re:There are many questions here (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41493545)

Because the lead time for these things is so long that you don't know what kind of jackass behavior politicians in the future will pull off.

Contingency planning.

Atlas Drugged (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#41492809)

It's time to get the government out of our military.

I'm glad they stopped F-22 production (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41492999)

I am glad they stopped production at the ~187. I would have preferred stopping at 100, but the Feds are incompetent. Now, those expensive fighters can get some real world trials, and bug fixes can be made before large scale production resumes.

Sirius Cybernetics Corporation (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | about 2 years ago | (#41493229)

I see the US military complex is making good use of the SCC strategy: introduce lots of little flaws, so that nobody realizes they don't need the product anyway.

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