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Black Hawk Maker to Pay U.S. $2.9 Million

(CN) - Sikorsky Aircraft Company, maker of the Black Hawk utility helicopter, has agreed to pay the United States $2.9 million to settle claims that it knowingly installed untested armored plates, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

The U.S. Army hired the Stratford, Conn.-based company to install ballistically tested armored plates on either side of the Black Hawk's cockpit to ensure pilot safety during combat. According to the Department of Justice, from 1991 to 2006, Sikorsky knowingly installed plates that had not been tested. The Army said it knows of no injuries resulting from the untested plates.

The company also made the Black Hawk or variations of it for the Navy, Air Force, and Marines, and for other nations.

Under the False Claims Act, a contractor who knowingly claims payment for faulty goods is liable for three times the government's damages plus a $5,500 to $11,000 civil penalty for each false claim.

The investigation was conducted by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Army Criminal Investigative Division, Defense Contract Audit Agency and Defense Contract Management Agency, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut.

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