Missile Contractor Said Faked Tests

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New York Headlines Sunday March 12 03:27 PM EST Missile Contractor Said Faked Tests NEW YORK (AP) - A former engineer at military contractor TRW claims the company faked tests and evaluations of a key component within the nation's proposed $27 billion antimissile system, The New York Times reported today.

Engineer Nira Schwartz, who said she was fired when she protested, has sued TRW in federal court in Los Angeles. She seeks more than $500 million.

She alleges that the interceptors failed in test after test but her bosses insisted the technology was performing adequately, refused to tell industrial partners and federal patrons of the poor results, and then fired her, the Times said.

She sued in 1996 and TRW has denied the allegations. Company officials, citing the pending litigation, refused to address details contained in newly unsealed documents.

The antimissile program is a scaled-down version of the ``Star Wars'' program envisioned by President Reagan.

Schwartz in 1995 and 1996 helped design computer programs meant to enable intercept missiles to tell the difference between approaching warheads and decoys.

In 1998, the Pentagon rejected the TRW interceptor as the nation's No. 1 antimissile system and instead chose one by rival Raytheon. The TRW model is a backup and could assume the lead role because of recent problems with the Raytheon system; a three-year Pentagon investigation, finished in August, found ``numerous technical discrepancies'' that ``appear to warrant further review.''

The Clinton administration is scheduled to decide this summer whether to go ahead with deployment of a network of radars and interceptors designed to protect all 50 U.S. states against a limited attack by ballistic missiles. A key factor in his decision will be the outcome of an interceptor test scheduled for this spring. If the test fails - as did the last one in January - deployment almost certainly would be delayed.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 13, 2000

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