The Magic of Software can improve the effectiveness of Jet Fighters

I recently watched a TV programme that covered a major airshow in the UK - Farnborough. There were many impressive displays including one by the new European "Typhoon" fighter. Shortly afterwards a rival manufacturer (Saab) demonstrated their aircraft which has been in service for several years - once again I enjoyed another fine display.

The thing that struck me was that the Saab test pilot (Magnus Olssen) commented that their aircraft remained competitive due to a significant upgrade - to the software.

Both aircraft performed incredible feats of nimble low speed high angle of attack handling. Both aircraft benefited from software that gave them "carefree handling" which enabled their pilots to concentrate on the mission rather than keeping their aircraft in the air.

As infrastructure and client software improves then we too should be able to spend less time tinkering and more time getting results from the information systems on which we rely.

Comments (3)

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m just back from a short break at everyone’s favourite sunshine destination: the North-East Essex…

  2. nik says:

    Of course every silver lining has a cloud; flight control software has also been a source of failures for modern aircraft, particularly those systems that override the pilot’s wishes rather than just complain loudly.

    CACM reported an entertaining example, luckily caught in review, on the F-16 which would have resulted in the plane flipping upside down on crossing the equator (I think there was also a similar issue with a failure that would prevent it from getting back the right way too!)

    That said, modern fighter aircraft are often so inherently unstable that it would be impossible to fly them without computer assistance

  3. Steve Lamb says:

    Nik> Absolutely – I heard about that one too. Having said that if general purpose software went through the same level of review as flight control software is would most likely be of much higher quality…and expense…

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