U.S. defense contractor Northrop Grumman has been accused of faking ‘pass’ results for the acceptance test procedures (ATPs) on their popular LN-100 Inertial navigation System/GPS navigation systems. The LN-100 has been used on various manned and unmanned vehicles sold to the U.S. government over the years including drones, submarines, missiles, helicopters and more.
The whistleblower on this potentially fraudulent practice was a Northrop Grumman plant manager named Todd Donaldson, who originally filed the complaint in 2012. The case was kept under seal from the company and from the public for two years, and was only recently unsealed on the order of a Utah District Judge. The case filed by Donaldson asserts that the LN-100 units typically failed the GPS Communication Test, and that technicians were instructed to manually key in the ‘pass’ grade without actually conducting the tests.
Furthermore, Donaldson said that the calibration files of the unit were not updated properly, causing GPS errors which accumulate over time and can cause navigational problems. According to the case file, Donaldson says that Northrop Grumman was aware of the error, and that they not only continued to sell the flawed units to the U.S. Government, but that he was demoted for his internal complaints about the fake test results. Donaldson did not name any specific accidents that occurred because of the fake tests.
According to the L.A. Times article, Northrop Grumman declined to comment on the case.