Pentagon denies anti-missile results overstated

Posted: Wednesday, March 08, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon is defending its missile-defense program against accusations that contractor TRW faked results of important tests and overstated the effectiveness of a vital component.

''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, 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.

Pentagon officials have proposed locating the system in Alaska. A top army official, Lt. Gen. John Costello, said Monday that Fort Greely, near Delta Junction, appears to be the best location for the system.

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.

''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.

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On the Net: For a transcript of Bacon's briefing: http://www.defenselink.mil/news

TRW Inc.'s Web site: http://www.trw.com

The Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization: http://www.acq.osd.mil/bmdo/bmdolink/html/bmdolink.html



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