Pentagon Denies Anti-Missile Results Overstated : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Mar 7, 2000 - 04:59 PM

Pentagon Denies Anti-Missile Results Overstated

By John M. Donnelly Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon defended its missile-defense program against accusations that TRW, a top contractor in developing the system, faked results of important tests and overstated a vital component's effectiveness.

"I don't believe we have overstated the results of this program," Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said Tuesday.

Nina Schwartz, a former TRW engineer, has alleged that the company doctored results from computer and flight tests of its anti-missile sensor in order to make it look better to the government, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The allegations are contained in a false-claims suit filed by Schwartz against TRW.

President Clinton is to decide this summer whether to begin deploying a multibillion-dollar national missile defense system. Its cost and impact on arms-control agreements have come under increasing scrutiny.

TRW built the sensor for a Boeing kill vehicle, or warhead, to be sent on a rocket into space. There it is supposed to intercept enemy missiles, distinguish them from decoys with which an adversary might surround its intercontinental missile, and then destroy the missile. Schwartz alleges computer tests showed the sensor doesn't work nearly as well as advertised. Moreover, she says, a June 1997 flight test of how well the sensor detected a missile in space did not fare nearly so well as TRW contended.

TRW spokeswoman Marynoele Benson defended the company's record.

"As was the case with respect to other aspects of TRW's performance under its contract with Boeing,

TRW's results were reviewed by two independent panels on behalf of the government, each of which reached conclusions directly contrary to the allegations Ms. Schwartz made in the litigation she filed," Benson said.

Bacon said a Raytheon kill vehicle, not the Boeing one used in TRW's sensor, has been chosen for the system now undergoing tests, although the Boeing and TRW kill vehicle remains a backup. In any event, the sensor technology at issue in the earlier tests has since been replaced on the TRW sensor.

"The story is largely about a civil suit between a former employee and her former employer," Bacon said. He noted that the Justice Department saw insufficient merit in Schwartz's claims to join her suit.

Schwartz told the Times the Pentagon originally planned to use up to nine decoys in interception tests and reduced it to one once it discovered how hard the job is.

Jennifer Canaff, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, said the agency never intended to use nine decoys. She said tests in October and January used one decoy and one mock enemy warhead.

That information had been stated before, she said. The number of decoys for the next test, currently set for May, is not yet determined, she said. ---

-- Carl Jenkins (, March 07, 2000

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