Or is it just commercial aircraft? I was watching an episode of Scorpion where an "F-120 Firehawk" crashed and they looked at its black box. So, do normal, non-imaginary fighters have them?

  • $\begingroup$ some do some don't, depends on the fighter, older models don't have them but newer ones will $\endgroup$ Dec 25, 2014 at 23:39

2 Answers 2


Yes, most military aircraft, including fighter aircraft, are equipped with a "black box" called flight data recorder (FDR) / crash survivable memory unit (CSMU) / integrated monitoring and recording system (IMRS) / deployable flight incident recorder set (DFIRS).

Sources 1, ( B-1B, F-22, T-45, B-2, F-4, F-15, F-16, C-5 Galaxy, NATO AWACS, and the Space Shuttle) 2. (F-18, floating black box)

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Do you know if it's encrypted? It seems like it would be a potential source of intelligence for hostile forces in a combat accident? $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Dec 25, 2014 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ I think it's safe to assume that scenario is included when the box was designed; I am not 100% sure, but I expect the data to be encrypted. $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    Dec 25, 2014 at 23:39
  • $\begingroup$ They're often referred to as Crash Survivable Memory Units (CSMUs). See www2.l-3com.com/edi/rtmu.htm $\endgroup$
    – sbooth
    Dec 26, 2014 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ Any source to support your answer. $\endgroup$
    – Firee
    Dec 29, 2014 at 10:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DeltaLima -- for example, the NTSB analyzed the CSMU from the F-16 in the Moncks Corner midair $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2017 at 16:16

Do fighters have black boxes?

Almost all the 4th gen and 5th gen fighter jets have a flight recorder a.k.a Black Box.

I was watching an episode of where an "F-120 Firehawk" crashed and they looked at its black box.

In case of a crash both the Black Box and the Ejection Chip will have to be examined to ascertain the cause of the crash.

Data is stored in stacked semiconductor dynamic RAM memory boards.The manufacturers supply the software and hardware needed to read and analyze the data

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Dynamic RAM would require a significant amount of power to retain its contents. While I can see advantages to having a large quantity of DRAM within a black box, I would not think it practical as a medium for holding data for all the time between a crash and the recovery of the module. More practical I would think would be to have the recorder contain both DRAM and flash, along with sufficient stored energy to copy the DRAM contents to flash when external power was removed. Do you know if the recorders work that way? $\endgroup$
    – supercat
    Jan 17, 2015 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ Most flight recorders can record 256 distinct streams of digital data, or parameters, per second, and store them all for 25 hours before writing over them. The latest voice recorders can store 180 minutes of conversation, while the older ones store 30 minutes. Both kinds of data are stored in stacked semiconductor dynamic RAM memory boards. The information recorded, the sampling rate, and the order in which the data are stored differ. $\endgroup$
    – DSarkar
    Jan 19, 2015 at 5:53
  • $\begingroup$ Dynamic RAM can be overwritten trillions of times without "wear", which is definitely a useful property, but will lose its contents unless it is continuously kept powered; powering a significant quantity of DRAM for a month would require a decent-sized battery. I can imagine the cost of DRAM plus flash plus a battery sufficient to power them long enough to copy the DRAM contents to the flash as being cheaper than the cost of some other memory technologies, but I would think an unlimited-write zero-power memory would cost less than a battery sufficient to power DRAM for a month. $\endgroup$
    – supercat
    Jan 19, 2015 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ It's possible that flight data recorders include a DRAM plus a battery large enough to keep it powered, but I would find it surprising. If DRAM or battery technologies have improved enough to make it practical, that would be interesting to know. $\endgroup$
    – supercat
    Jan 19, 2015 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ FRAM would be better I would think. 100 trillion write cycles, SRAM access speed, EEPROM non-volatility. Example: cypress.com/file/209146/download ■ 4-Mbit ferroelectric random access memory (F-RAM) logically organized as 512 K × 8 ❐ High-endurance 100 trillion (1014) read/writes ❐ 151-year data retention ❐ NoDelay™ writes ❐ Advanced high-reliability ferroelectric process ■ Very fast serial peripheral interface (SPI) ❐ Up to 40-MHz frequency ❐ Direct hardware replacement for serial flash and EEPROM ❐ Supports SPI mode 0 (0, 0) and mode 3 (1, 1) $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Apr 26, 2018 at 14:49

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .