Software Testing and QA for Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft
The fifth-generation fighter jets lead the pack of the most advanced machines made till date by human
beings. US-made F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightening II, Russia-made Sukhoi PAK-FA T 50, China’s J-20,
Mitsubishi ATD-X OF Japan, and India’s own HAL FGFA are defined by their focus on stealth, better
survival, advanced avionics, superior maneuverability, and highly-developed network-centric warfare
capabilities. These machines have exceedingly integrated computer systems empowered to act in sync
with ground control, AWACS, satellite guidance, and data fusion to assert control in the war theater
through enhanced situational awareness.
Software Defines Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft
A fifth-generation fighter aircraft differs from its predecessor as much as its multirole capabilities and
super maneuverability as its software. F-22 and F-35, only two fifth-generation fighter variants in
commercial production and operational, have over 10 billion lines of software codes. The most complex
platform in the military annals often found to run behind their production schedules only because of
development and testing problems impacting the volume of software code they use.
F-22, the most potent fighter aircraft in the world, has more than 1.7 million software code to empower
its avionics. Majority of these are tasked with receiving, analyzing, and processing data received from
300-megabyte-each two Raytheon Common Integrated Processors on the AESA radar and other
systems. The L3 communication system with its millions of software processes over one gigabit
information per second. This strength of software have made Raptor the most advanced fighter ever
manufactured by aerospace and defense industry.
F-35 is “a software intensive fighter” while Sukhoi PAK-FA derives its strength from an artificial
intelligence comprising highly developed sensor fusion software.
Software Testing for Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft
Software systems in fifth-generation fighters enable integrated processing of data from networked
sensors to support multirole and maneuverable features. Any software flaw has the potential to render
vital aircraft systems nonfunctional and knock these machines from the war theater. In 2007, F-22s
faced with multiple system failures while flying over the Pacific. Software errors led them to their
grounding for a week. This underlines how important is effective software testing and quality
assurance in keeping these highly pitched, sophisticated, expensive, and prized defense assets
One F-22 was lost in an accident while on a reconnaissance mission. A court of inquiry revealed that
wrong “software response to an overheat condition” caused mission control problems and caused the
fatal accident. Similarly, complexity and crisis involving data fusion software on F-35 has led to
additional cost and developmental delays plaguing the Joint Fight Striker program, which is running
behind the schedule with huge price escalations.
F-35 Software Testing Tools
F-35 Lightening II has a unique feature among fifth-generation aircrafts because of primacy given to
software systems. Over 10-billion software code the multirole aircraft has are written in C and C++. It
also shares a number of codes programmed in ADA language, a key feature in air-dominance F-22
fighter. Santa Barbara-based firm Green Hills developed software for DO-178B real-time operating
system while Monrovia-based Parasoft Corporation is carrying out static code analysis programming for
the aircraft at Lockheed facilities.
UK-based Ultra Electronic Controls are working with LDRA tool for verification of engine and target
environment integration software. The tool with its red-box mode, TBurn features, and drop-down
menus is easy to be applied to source and object codes. Its potency in economical, automated, and less-
error-prone testing ensures east test repetition. Engineers have made the test suite highly compatible
for unit, integration, and system test through effective structural coverage analysis.
Software testing tools selected for the F-35 program include Insure++, C++, and Jtest. While the first
one ensures detection of allocation and memory lapses along with corruption probability, the last two
play a key role in compliance validation.
This article explains how important is effective software testing and quality assurance for Fifth-
Generation Fighter Aircraft by 360logica