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Air Force Stops Payments to Westinghouse

Associated Press

The Air Force is withholding more than $150 million in contract payments to Westinghouse Electric because of production and quality-control problems on a major radar contract, officials said Wednesday.

The problems involve “wiring assemblies,” or circuit boards, for complex electronic components of radar to be used on an improved version of the F-16 jet fighter as well as the B-1 bomber, said Mike Wallace, an Air Force spokesman.

Westinghouse has been having trouble producing the parts to specification and on time, with the result that the Air Force has been withholding monthly progress and profit payments since November, 1983, Wallace said.

Some Progress Made

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As of Aug. 1, $152.4 million had been withheld from the firm. That total dipped slightly to $150.7 million as of Sept. 1, indicating that some progress is being made, the spokesman said.

“The real impact is that we’re not getting the spare radars that we need for inventory,” Wallace said. “The problems haven’t held up production of the F-16C jets themselves.”

Dick King, a Westinghouse spokesman in Washington, said the company would have no comment on the situation. He also declined to discuss corrective actions being taken by the company.

Both King and Wallace said they could not comment on a published report disclosing high inspection failure rates for the radar equipment.

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The Hearst News Service, citing confidential memorandums it obtained from company sources, reported that the Air Force had actually stopped accepting any radar components for a six-day period last month because 75% of the parts were failing initial inspections.

Took Similar Action

The news service also said the Air Force had taken similar action against Westinghouse’s Advanced Technology Laboratory outside Baltimore, Md., because of problems in producing random access memory chips. The lab has received “14 Air Force ‘deficiency reports’ this year,” the story added.

According to Wallace, Westinghouse has so far received three contracts involving a new tactical radar system--the APG-68--for the F-16C fighter. The first was a $27-million pre-production contract, the second was a $64-million development contract and the third a $788-million production contract.

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The firm also has contracts to provide a similar radar system for the new B-1B bomber, but Wallace said he did not know the value of that work.

Westinghouse is the nation’s 13th-largest defense contractor, having won $1.9 billion in new contracts during fiscal 1984.


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