WASHINGTON Jan 30 A lawsuit by a former
Northrop Grumman employee alleges that the defense
contractor defrauded the U.S. government over a contract to
provide commercial airliners with a missile defense system.
The suit, which was originally filed in 2009 by Leo
Danilides, was unsealed in federal district court in Chicago on
Thursday. The U.S. Justice Department said in a separate filing
it was not joining in the action.
The suit was filed under the False Claims Act, which lets
people collect rewards for blowing the whistle on fraud against
Northrop spokesman Randy Belote said the company typically
did not comment on litigation matters.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security contract involved
an effort called the Counter-MANPADS program, designed to
protect civilian airliners after an unsuccessful shoulder-fired
missile attack against an Israeli airplane taking off from
Mombasa, Kenya, in 2002.
Northrop received a contract in 2006 to provide improvements
for work it had done in two earlier phases of the project "and
"create a commercially feasible system," according to the
lawsuit. It said the plaintiff, Danilides, had worked on the
program "for many years."
The suit alleged that during the Phase III part of the
project, for which it said the company was paid $62 million,
"Northrop pretended to be exerting its best efforts when it was
doing virtually nothing to improve the design and reliability of
the Counter-MANPADS system."
"Northrop failed to perform critical tasks, and then
profited by keeping the money that was supposed to have been
spent doing that work," according to the allegations.
"Far from providing its 'best efforts' as required, Northrop
was providing no efforts," the suit alleged.
The contract ended in 2008 and government funding for the
project was later canceled.