(CN) – A Florida defense contractor put soldiers at risk and defrauded the government by producing hundreds of “bunker buster” bomb fuzes it knew could explode unpredictably, “often shortly after the fuze was armed,” federal prosecutors say. Kaman Precision Products knew it was using bad parts, and charged taxpayers $2 million for it, according to the False Claims Act complaint.
Federal prosecutors in Orlando say the Orlando-based company, fka Kamon Dayron Inc., knowingly used a “nonconforming” motor in a batch of about 1,000 fuses to meet deadlines in 2003.
Under the gun to fill an order and unable to get the right part, the company substituted a part that had long been known to be dangerous, according to the complaint.
“In 1997, it was discovered that the EB 401-1 bellows motor designated for use in the FMU-143 fuze was over-energetic, meaning that its powder charge was too powerful for the fuze,” the complaint states. “The over-energetic bellows motor caused the detonator in the fuze to fire unpredictably, often shortly after the fuze was armed. This created a hazard to personnel using the fuze and created a potential for premature and other misfires of the warhead.”
Kaman Dayron faced a shutdown and the possibility of losing its $20 million-per-year Pentagon contract when it couldn’t get the correct motor from its supplier, prosecutors say.
Company managers hid the fraud by changing part numbers in its computer system, then charged $2 million for the fuses, according to the complaint.
The military discovered the substitution and has spent $3 million in an “attempt to rework the defective fuzes to create usable ones,” prosecutors say.
The government wants a refund.