Software bugs, schedule delays could slow production of Raptor

Software bugs, schedule delays could slow production of Raptor

The General Accounting Office is recommending the Air Force slow production of F/A-22 Raptor fighter planes due in part to persistent software problems that require computers in the cockpit to be rebooted regularly.

The GAO also found fault with the aircraft's performance and development schedule, which now includes a potential $1.3 billion in cost overruns in the engineering, manufacturing and development phase of the program, according to a GAO report.

'The uncertainties regarding performance capabilities of the F/A-22 aircraft and its development schedule will persist until technical problems have been addressed,' the GAO said. 'In light of those uncertainties, steadily increasing annual production rates could result in the Air Force having to modify a larger quantity of aircraft after they are built.'

The major problems in the stealth plane program include software instability, overheating in portions of the plane and excessive movement in the aircraft's twin vertical tails. So far, 12 planes built by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. are being used by several commands for training, officials said.

Air Force officials said they didn't know when the software glitches would be fixed and that they 'do not yet understand the problems associated with the instability of the avionics software well enough' to give a timeline for when the problems can be resolved, according to Friday's GAO report.

Overall, Air Force officials and representatives at Lockheed Martin disagreed with the GAO's findings.

During a news conference in January, Ronald Sega, director of Defense Department research and engineering, said the software glitches appear to be caused by the custom integration of several applications, including radar and electronic warfare programs.

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