The Pentagon’s inspector general bragged that the IG’s office made defense contractor Raytheon pay millions to fix defective missiles, only to be promptly embarrassed when Raytheon revealed it had already discovered the problems years ago and paid out of pocket to fix them.
In a December report, the inspector general asserted that after it had received a whistleblower complaint over a hotline regarding problems with air-to-air missiles, the watchdog forced Raytheon to pay $10.6 million in repair fees, Bloomberg reports.
The IG included the Raytheon case as a key example of cost savings in 2015 produced by following through on whistleblower complaints. The whistleblower complained that the missiles “contained defective microwave sub-assemblies,” which kicked off an IG investigation in 2012.
But what really happened is that Raytheon recalled 95 missiles and modified the sub-assemblies long in advance of the IG report. It also included software fixes to reflect hardware updates.
Even before the investigation took place, Raytheon entered into an agreement with the Air Force in which the contractor said it would pay for replacement and repair costs. The inspector general apparently took no notice of this agreement for years and tried to take credit for the cost savings, saying that it resulted from its investigation.
The Amraam has been provided to 37 U.S. allies and is one of the most advanced medium range air-to-air missiles, functioning in all-weather environments. Fighter jets have used the missile successfully in Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo. In particular, the missile has been installed on the F-16, F-15, F/A-18 and F-22, among other platforms. Engineers are working on a version of the missile for integration with the F-35.
However, the Pentagon now thinks that jamming technology developed by the Russians stands a strong chance at mitigating the effectiveness of the Amraam. Jammers work by rendering the radar on missiles useless.
“We—the U.S.—haven’t been pursuing appropriate methods to counter EA [electronic attack] for years,” a senior Air Force official told The Daily Beast in 2014. “So, while we are stealthy, we will have a hard time working our way through the EA to target Su-35s and our missiles will have a hard time killing them.”
While the Araam has undergone several notable upgrades, it still fundamentally works based on old technology, which may run into serious difficulty when faced with electronic attacks.
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