Skip to comments.F-22ís Human Interface Kills Humans, Then Lands Them Safely
Posted on 02/24/2013 10:52:31 AM PST by lbryce
Think Windows 8 is a usability nightmare? Two pilots of the infamously expensive F-22 fighter jet recently went on 60 Minutes to describe how this phenomenal, phenomenal machine poisons its pilots air supply in the course of normal flight. But the plane is also smart enough to land itself with no help from its passed-out pilot. This is UX design by way of Brazil: the human interface is so bad that it actively tries to kill you the entire time youre using it, and so good that it can deliver your comatose body back to safety with no help from you at all.
Military technology has never been a paragon of usability, and the very notion of user experience becomes a kind of moral paradox in this context anyway. Drone warfare solves the UX problem of operating an F-22: never before has it been simpler, easier, and less physically dangerous for a human being to fire airborne missiles at other human beings. Of course, this highly effective user experience has its own unintended drawbacks. The AR-15, which Quartz reporter Christopher Mims called the iPhone 5 of guns, has such a good UX that even an untrained lunatic can use the technology with hellish effectiveness. Chemical weapons and neutron bombs were both invented from what could be characterized as a desire to make the user experience of waging war more humane; meanwhile, actually using these technologies would be considered a crime against humanity.
What should good user experience design for weapons and military technology look like? As robotics lets us separate the user from the experience ever further, its definitely food for thought.
The problem is quite serious just for the fear of casualty, where I've read two pilots died as a result of the design dynamics the jet suffers from. The cost is where the inexplicable aspect meets pentagon operations protocols. But it gets even worse when you realize the aircraft has been priced on the very low end of the scale with the idea of having foreign counties help ameliorate the exorbitant costs by having them include a contingent of aircraft for use by their own air force.
Just imagine you're listening to a pitch for your country to be one of the first outside the US military to acquire these jets of the future. The Defense Minister is wholly uncomfortable about the price but US pressure and influence leaves him little choice.
Okay. The minister knows better than to say no and is ready to order up a contingent of the F-22 (at how much per unit????} he's about to sign.
The pentagon sales guy then says there's just this one little thing. The pilots have a tendency to black out due to some problem with the oxygen/breathing system but we still don't have a single clue why it's happening.
Okay, it's like, we'll get back to you pentagon guys real soon.
You are referring to the F35. The 22 was all ours.
Much thanks for the correction and apologize for having to know better.
I blame skynet.
The comments were better than the article.
Somewhat mixed there. AFAIK, the F-35 doesn’t asphyxiate its pilots...
In all fairness, the 22 and 35 share a bunch of issues like cost, overruns, tech problems etc.
And since it’s only our military and taxpayer money...”What difference does it make?”
The AR-15/M-16 has good “User Experience”? You know, this guy is on to something here. This weapon requires some instruction to be able to fire it. It’s not something you can just pick up and start firing. Take a box of cartridges, an empty magazine, and a weapon and see if Joe or Mary off the street can even get the thing to fire.
I am truly humbled, and very much appreciate your comments, despite my ignorant oversight. That’s the nicest compliment I’ve ever received here at FR, which by implication you know really means a lot. :-)
I really like to read an article that tells how things work. I was flunked out of Engineering by a young anti war English “teacher” or I might have become an engineer. Tell me/ show me how things work and leave the politics out. OK, I am not typical.
I guess what makes the computer so good it just poisons the bitchy whiners. Missing him was the obvious flaw.
Why not? The oxygen problem is exactly a computer problem [software], not a mechanical problem (from everything I've read), and that means it's perfectly ok to compare it because you're comparing apples-to-apples in that case.
Granted that the cost in money or in human-life for some error might be higher, but why does that mean that incorrect [buggy] software should be any more acceptable in your word-processor than in your pace-maker?
This is state of the art technology with nothing you can compare it with.
Obviously incorrect, we can compare it with other similar items: crossbows to smooth-bore, or Forth to LISP, or gasoline- to Diesel-engines.
“But it gets even worse when you realize the aircraft has been priced on the very low end of the scale with the idea of having foreign counties help ameliorate the exorbitant costs by having them include a contingent of aircraft for use by their own air force.”
Actually, law requires the F-22, from inception to today and forever, to be US-only. Enacting legislation made it so.
Besides, because it was never to be exported, the software was never encrypted with FMS security deletions. These deletions ensure an exported jet does not have our software. They get a version with a governor on it and any attempt to disconnect the governor would result in software unraveling/scrambling to nothing but unrecognizable ones and zeros.
To modify F-22 software for export would cost an estimated half a billion dollars. . .not many countries can afford the jet at its current price, let alone at the price of the jet PLUS NR costs.
Don’t like the guys attitude, either.
Senator McCain Livid About Major Benghazi Cover Up and in parentheses I wrote (Yeah, But What Difference Does It Make?)
And in the comments section, I wrote it twice, each with successively larger letters and in color.
Senator McCain, What Difference Does It Make?What Difference Does It Make?
Anyway some guy comes in and criticizes me for using the phrase and got all bent out of shape saying I was provoking an incident and then went on to quote a french etymology dictionary that gives the root meaning to provoke as that of a provocateur.
I laughed myself silly mocking him to no end and further on another FReeper criticized the commenter about him being an ignoramus.
When I returned a bit later, the Moderator obviously did not approve of what I said and placed the article I posted which was in the Front Page section and demoted it to where it was under no category and all comments dropped off completely. I have no qualms with what the Moderator did. Perhaps, I was too rough on the guy. The lesson I want to convey to you is to be careful what phrase you use. if it's politically controversial, like, What's the difference? you may upset some FReepers who might take it all wrong.
The Story is true (you can do a search on it) but my sentiments here are a bit tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic.
Funny story :-)
Yep - the article is simply WRONG! Better yet - he used 60 minutes as a source of truth? Really?
Turns out the best suspect they have for the Oxygen problem is the suit the guys wear! They are doubling up on the cold-water gear along with the G suit, and the one gets in the others way during High G manuevers. Comes down to a faulty valve in the G suit.
Has nothing to do with Computers. He is an idiot.
drones are great... until your enemy commandeers them. then you’re hosed.
maybe, juuuuuuuust maybe... if we didn’t get the boards from china, there would be less sabotage inherent in the system.
of course, i’m from the generation where American military might was developed at home by Americans and not manufactured overseas and shipped in to be integrated by teams of foreign born workers.
Yes, from what I understand, the issue was the new G-suit. They were trying to make sustained G’s effortless, but once activated it didn’t fully release. Thus limiting the pilot to short shallow breaths that would be typical of a person when not exerting. Unfortunately, air-to-air combat is a near constant high level of effort, causing an oxygen deficit. I only have two gripes with the F-22: We bought too few and the internal weapons bay is too small. A smart tactician would give up a little stealth for more missiles on the external wing stations.
Sorry, Steve, but the idiot may be in the mirror.
OBOGS is primarily computer (software) controlled, so it has EVERYTHING to do with computers.
The '60 Minutes' piece included interviews with pilots who had nearly bought farms due to OBOGS and then refused to fly it until fixed.
Right after the piece aired Panetta ordered further restrictions placed on Raptors.
Most of these problems did NOT occur in Alaska, so the heavy vests were not used.
On top of the oxygen starvation problems, most pilots complain of a condition now called "Raptor Cough" which is almost certainly an OBOGS phenomenon.
Within the Army Operational Testing of an IT system includes Manpower Personnel Integration (MANPRINT), of which Human Factors Integration (HFE) is a part.
“To correct the problem, the Air Force plans to replace the valve on the vest and increase the volume of oxygen flowing to pilots by removing a filter installed to determine whether oxygen contamination was the cause of the hypoxia symptoms.”
A mechanical device was faulty. Point/Set/Match. I suggest you clean that mirror in front of yourself.
Nothing to do with computer software/hardware said the Electrical Engineer ;-)
I’m going to take this just a little farther. Did a few searches. Everything that references the 60 minutes piece, etc was before around July. The original article I pointed to was late September.
So this is actually OLD news, and the stuff that the article points to is WAY older.
Check the date on the article you posted - sorta dated, eh?
The filter referenced was another "fix" that didn't work, as it leaked carbon into pilots lungs, causing them to hack up black spittle.
Oh, by the way, AFTER the valve was redesigned it seems the problem was not solved, so LockMart was given a $24 MILLION contract to study (not fix, just study) the problem. If you think the problem was solved, why spend this money?
By the way, Sport, the term is "Game/Set/Match".
“Unfortunately, air-to-air combat is a near constant high level of effort, causing an oxygen deficit.”
Actually, A/A combat is not constant. . .but it is intense. A/A engagements, if you closed to the merge, usually last 30-sec or less. During that 30-sec’s you will be exposed to massive G's and pressures upon your body. . .hence the G-suit. And with the F-22, it can sustain G's at a much higher rate and for longer periods of time than other fighters. Even in a 30-sec engagement, other fighters have to extend for energy, ease off a little here and there, do something to get back their energy.
Anyway, most times, especially with the F-22, you make BVR kills and take advantage of your L/O capability to avoid a knife-fight (dog-fight).
“I only have two gripes with the F-22: We bought too few”
Yup. Congress and their infinite wisdom and all that.
“and the internal weapons bay is too small.”
The weapons bay is actually a result of expanding the area in the belly. You see, “not a pound for air-to-ground” was the mantra when the Air Force issued the first studies and proposals. It was to be a A/A platform—ONLY. No A/G mission at all. Then things changed and the bay was modified to accept weapons. Limited amount for sure, but all PGMs.
“A smart tactician would give up a little stealth for more missiles on the external wing stations.”
As a short note, 5th gen jets are L/O for a reason and adding any amount of external reflective surfaces, and missiles would be a huge external reflective surface, would be like adding day-glo stripes on the jet. . .not good and destroy any capability you might have for L/O.
Hulka; thanks for the expansion, I was a little to glib with constant. As to the weapons bay; I recall that is started quite a bit bigger and was nibbled down for one reason after the next until they finally put a halt to that process. The same thing happened to the F-35. It was supposed to carry a lot more air-to-ground weapons internally.
As for the stealth: You may want to go from awesome to great if this future becomes true: Weak copies of 5th generation fighters augmented by lots of UCAVs built buy individuals making $2 a day and using software purchased from the French. Until then, take every advantage you can!
Fight to know just how much you give up (in detection range) with a variety of external configurations (especially tanks). It might not be as bad as you think. Especially in the the forward quadrant. Stay sharp! Combat probabilities peak at the 3 to 5 year point and the 8 to 12 year point from now.