Lockheed Accused Of Cheating On Aircraft Flight Tests
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A Pentagon investigation has found that Lockheed Corp. officials inflated test scores on the aerospace company’s Aquila unmanned surveillance plane, a newspaper reports.
The internal investigation found that, during critical flight tests of the aircraft earlier this year, Lockheed representatives took advantage of the Army’s lack of controls and illegally influenced test results, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday from Washington.
Despite the alleged cheating, the Aquila fared poorly in the tests and the Pentagon said in an October report that the aircraft shouldn’t be built until serious quality and performance problems are solved, the Times said.
Sandy Dochen, spokesman for the Lockheed division building the Aquila in Austin, Texas, said the company hasn’t had a chance to review the Pentagon report.
However, Dochen said, ″If we had so much influence, why didn’t we pass the test?″
The Aquila is a pilotless, remotely guided surveillance plane designed to relay television pictures of enemy positions and lessen the need for soldiers to conduct dangerous reconnaissance missions.
In 13 years, the cost of the seven-foot, 260-pound drone has escalated from $563 million to $2 billion.
″There were a lot of very successful tests. There were a couple of problems ... We’ve since corrected those problems,″ Dochen said. ″In the (Army) report they give four incidents where they allege this interference. There were way over 100 flights in that several-month period. The incidents occurred within the same few days.″
Contractor representatives are barred by law from participating in operational tests of weapons systems. The Pentagon’s inspector general report cited four ″clear-cut″ violations of the law in the February testing.
″There were inadequate controls to preclude the contractor from influencing the tests, and the contractor took repeated advantage of the lack of controls,″ the report said. ″It is clear that the contractor extended his participation well beyond observer status at the scoring conferences, providing unsolicited comments and lobbied for less damaging scores.″