A software glitch forced 12 United States Air Force F-22A Raptor stealth fighters to cancel their first overseas flight.
The jets were flying from Hawaii to Japan when they were forced to turn back after suffering problems with their navigation systems.
Retired Air Force general Don Shepperd told CNN Television that the onboard navigation, communications and fuel systems crashed as the planes crossed the International Date Line.
The problem seems to have arisen not from the time change, but from the change in longitude from W179.99 degrees to E180 which occurs on the International Date Line.
The USAF refused to specify the cause of the issue saying only that the aircraft "experienced a software problem involving the navigation system en route from Hickam to Kadena".
For "operational security reasons" the USAF declined to discuss specific aircraft systems or locations.
The F-22A Raptors reportedly had to turn round and return to Hawaii using only visual contact with their tankers.
The US$125m planes, the most expensive fighters ever built, returned safely, but the situation may have been disastrous if they had not been with their tankers or the weather had turned bad.
The Raptors have since made it to Kadena with more than 250 personnel from the 27th Fighter Squadron, Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, as part of a scheduled rotational assignment lasting 90 to 120 days.
Stealth fighters hit by software crash
By Staff Writers on Feb 27, 2007 7:54AM