F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Defense contractor convicted for F-16 engine seals fraud

August 25, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A defense contractor has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of two and a half years as a result of participation in a fraudulent scheme to supply counterfeit and sub-standard aircraft parts to the United States Department of Defense.
These parts, all of which consisted of flight-critical "application items," included engine seals and O-rings for placement in a wide range of military aircraft, including F-16 and F-14 fighter jets, AWACS surveillance aircraft, Blackhawk attack helicopters, and Seahawk rescue helicopters.

The military contract required him to obtain engine seals from either the helicopter maker or one other manufacturer approved by the Pentagon, but he admitted having them made at an unauthorized plant in Taiwan.

These counterfeit seals, which contained markings identifying them as the approved Chicago Rawhide-manufactured item, were made from sub-standard nitrile rubber, which has marginal stress tolerance capabilities and questionable ability to withstand exposure to intense heat and hydraulic fluids normally associated with military aviation use

As part of his guilty plea on two false document charges, Ralph Michael Cooper admitted that the particular counterfeit parts that he had supplied to the Air Force, Army, Navy, and NASA were sufficiently critical and sub-standard so as to present "a conscious or reckless risk of death or serious bodily injury."

In addition to the prison term he was ordered to make a restitution payment the Department of Defense of $54,933.

His attorney did not immediately respond to a message Tuesday.