On April 10, at Langley Air Force Base, an F-22 pilot, Capt. Brad Spears, was locked inside the cockpit 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 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.

Here are more photos.

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.

What could I possibly add to this simple description of your taxpayer dollars at work?

Thanks, David S.

  1. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    $182,205, $288,000 – What the fuck’s the diff, we’re talking about what? 4, 5, maybe even -wow!- 6 cubic feet of cast Lexan. Now add some labor, drilling, bevelling the edges, hand-polishing – by now we could already be way up there around $4- or 500 bucks invested in that sucker. Oops, forgot all the time and materials wasted on rejects… Then QA signoff, crating, cartage, shelf space, IC… let’s be reeeel generous – $5000 so far? $10,000 sound fair? A nice, perfectly reasonable over-1700% markup… et voila! there’s your eighth-of-a-million-dollar canopy. See?

    #3 – dave

    “I wonder if they tried opening the door with a cell phone. I hear that works.”


    Betcha a tennis ball woulda done it…

  2. Miguel says:

    With the sort of money the entire F22 project costs you could fund a manned mission to Mars! Really!

  3. Tom says:

    Thirty years ago I worked with a young, talented, mechanic who had been discharged from the Air Force. He told tales of unpopular pilots being locked in with a bead of super glue and having to be cut out of the cockpits after their flights.

  4. Nick says:

    1) I would have hated to have been in that cockpit while that chain saw was running.

    2) I’ll remember this solution during my next Jet Blue flight.

  5. Eklectick says:

    This was a year ago…

    This was a prototype.

    Not so new “news” I guess :-S


  6. Moose says:

    Happened LAST April, and it’s well fixed now. The horse is dead, stop beating it.

  7. I told Bush to get the #@$#@#@$ Extended Warranty coverage!

  8. John S says:

    Yes, I think we are now over engineering ourselves. Plus, we are over looking common sense. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
    Seems reengineering something to make a name for ourselves is at epidemic status.

  9. catbeller says:

    This is why one shouldn’t use computers for:

    1. Voting.
    2. Complete AI control of mission spacecraft on manned flight to Saturn, Dave.
    3. Opening the only door on your craft. See #2 as well for an example.

  10. Bla Bla says:

    This aircraft has 2 million codes (some of them arnt even registered). If one of them doesnt work the whole system shuts down.

    Lucky this didnt happen at 30,000ft Pilot would be pretty F**KED.


    I was there, it wasn’t a software issue. All of your speculation is groundless. It wasn’t a prototype aircraft. It was a fully operational one. The MECHANICAL lock that keeps the canopy shut malfunctioned. And there is a procedure to blow the canopy on the ground, but it is extremely unpredictable as to where it will land not to mention heavy, so it is a last resort option. As to the cost, its coated just like the rest of the A/C, hence the cost. Technology isn’t cheap.


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