Trapped in an F-22
The Self-Locking F-22
On April 10, at Langley Air Force Base, an F-22 pilot, Capt. Brad Spears, was locked inside the ****pit of his aircraft for five hours. No one in the U.S. Air Force or from Lockheed Martin could figure out how to open the aircraft's canopy.
At about 1:15 pm, chainsaw-wielding firefighters from the 1st Fighter Wing finally extracted Spears after they cut through the F-22's three-quarter-inch thick polycarbonate canopy.
Total damage to the airplane, according to sources inside the Pentagon: 1.28 million. Not only did the firefighters have to ruin the canopy, which cost $286,000, they also scuffed the coating on the airplane's skin which will cost about $1 million to replace.
The Pentagon currently plans to buy 181 copies of the F-22 from Lockheed Martin, the world's biggest weapons vendor. The total price tag : $65.4 billion. The incident at Langley has many Pentagon watchers shaking their heads. Tom Christie, the former director of testing and evaluation for the DOD, calls the F-22 incident at Langley "incredible." "God knows what'll happen next," said Christie, who points out that the F-22 has about two million lines of code in its software system.
"This thing is so software intensive. You can't check out every line of code." One analyst inside the Pentagon who has followed the F-22 for years said that "Everyone's incredulous. They're asking can this really have happened?"
As for Lockheed Martin, the source said, "Whatever the problem was, the people who built it should know how to open the canopy."
Lockheed Martin's F-22 spokesman, Joe Quimby, did not return telephone calls.