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Australian Kangaroos Now Equipped With Stinger Missiles

10 December 1999

Australian Air Force helicopters apparently need to be more careful when flying around herds of kangaroos. The programmers of the air force's new virtual reality simulators have taken great pains to ensure that they provide realistic simulations of actual flying conditions.

According to Software Testing and Quality Engineering magazine, the head of the Defense Science and Technology Organization's Land Operations/Simulation division reportedly ordered developers to program in realistic reactions to the helicopters by kangaroo herds. Disturbance of the herds could jeopardize helicopters by helping give away their positions.

The programmers modified software coding that had originally been used to model the reactions of an infantry detachment. The developers changed the graphical icons from soldiers to kangaroos and increased the figures' speed of movement.

During a recent demonstration, the Aussies were showing their simulators to a group of visiting American pilots. The Aussie pilots buzzed the kangaroo herds to show off the realism of the system. The kangaroos scattered behind a hill as the helicopter flew overhead.

The startled Americans and Australians then watched as the kangaroos reappeared from behind the hill and promptly launched a volley of Stinger missiles at the helicopter.

The programmers had apparently forgotten to modify that section of the software code. Australian air force officials report one positive fallout from the goof -- pilots are now very careful to avoid flying near kangaroo herds.

Reported by Newsbytes.com, www.newsbytes.com.

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