Lockheed Martin engineer blew whistle on Coast Guard radio flaws

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin agreed to pay $4.4 million to resolve claimst that it supplied faulty radio systems to the U.S. Coast Guard, which has a large training facility west of Petaluma.

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Lockheed Martin, a Maryland-based defense contractor with revenue above $47 billion, agreed to pay $4.4 million to resolve allegations that it provided defective communications equipment to the U.S. Coast Guard security cutters, according to Alex Tse, acting U.S. attorney in San Francisco. The deal was announced Jan. 19.

The Coast Guard, part of the Dept. of Homeland Security, has its largest west-coast training center located in Petaluma, where it trains yeomen, information-systems technicians, electronics technicians, operations specialists, chefs, medics and storekeepers. Petaluma’s campus also houses the Coast Guard’s Chief Petty Officer Academy in its Leadership Development Center.

“The Radio Frequency Distribution System Lockeed provided fails to meet the requirement of transmitting and receiving several different radio signals at the same time without undue interference,” the Dept. of Justice alleged.

“The Coast Guard has taken delivery of the first six Cutters and three additional Cutters are under construction,” the DOJ said. “All nine Cutters have versions of the same Radio Frequency Distribution System.”

To settle the allegations, Lockheed agreed to pay $2.2 million and provide the Coast Guard with repairs to the equipment on the nine cutters at no charge. The repairs are valued at $2.2 million.

“This office remains committed to fighting fraud and false claims against the federal government,” Tse said in a statement. “It is essential that the communications systems on the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutters work properly.”

The case is the result of a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by an engineer who formerly worked for Lockheed. The whistleblower, known as a “relator,” will receive $990,000.

James Dunn covers technology, biotech, law, the food industry, and banking and finance. Reach him at: james.dunn@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4257