Fighter plane plagued with software problems

Computers in the cockpit of the Air Force's F/A-22 Raptor fighter planes have been plagued with software problems and need to be rebooted regularly, the Pentagon's chief technical adviser said.

Ronald Sega, director of Defense research and engineering, said the glitches appear to be caused by the custom integration of numerous applications. Sega said the Defense Department is reviewing the startup and running components of the fighter planes and is calling for vendors to develop more interoperable technology.

So far, a dozen of the planes have been built by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. and are being used by several commands for training.

'They're working through some of the software problems in terms of the integration,' said Sega, who spoke in Washington last month at a media briefing sponsored by Defense Week magazine.

Sega said the software problems are typical considering the size of the program. Based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, the $69 billion F-22 program has been plagued with problems, including the computer glitches and at least $700 million in cost overruns in the engineering, manufacturing and development phase of the program, according to Air Force documents.

The increase in program costs are not casued by aircraft performance, but partly because of development problems with the avionics software, said Marvin R. Sambur, Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition, during a December Pentagon briefing.

Work in progress

'It's a work in progress to get the (F-22) off to where they want it to be,' Sega said.

The fighter is expected to be fully operational in 2005. The stealth plane can cruise at supersonic speeds and is considered to be the cornerstone of the Air Force's future.

During the Washington media briefing, Sega also discussed the direction of the R&D directorate. He said the war on terrorism and a push to transform DOD into a more unified organization are driving his office to integrate systems in the initial phase of development.

He said developers and Defense agencies need to speed up the acquisition phase by rolling out new technologies faster to support war efforts.

'It is adding real value to the battlefield,' Sega explained.


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