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Drone maker Insitu will pay $25 million to settle whistleblower claim it used ‘recycled’ parts on military gear

Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle sits on the flight deck aboard the Expeditionary Fast Transport Vessel USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Katie Cox/Released)
January 16, 2021

Insitu, an aerial drone manufacturer in the Columbia River Gorge, will pay $25 million to settle allegations that its military drones were outfitted with used components rather than new parts.

“Cases such as this one should be seen as a warning to defense contractors that false claims have no place in military purchasing,” U.S. attorney Brian Moran said in a statement Tuesday announcing the settlement.

The allegations originated with a former Insitu manager, D R O’Hara, who filed a whistleblower complaint in federal court and will receive $4.6 million of the settlement. Investigators, who took over the case under provisions of the whistleblower law, allege that Insitu billed the military for new parts and components but actually used less expensive recycled and refurbished parts.

Insitu said it cooperated with the investigation and said its disclosures to the government met all requirements.

“At all times, Insitu provided superior ISR services to the Navy and Special Operations Command (”SOCOM”), a fact the government does not dispute,” the company said in a statement. “Insitu continues to provide mission-ready systems and supports the nation’s warfighters by providing world-class service.”

Insitu, owned by Boeing, is headquartered in the riverfront town of Bingen, Washington. It employs about 1,500, two-thirds of them in the Bingen and Hood River area.

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(c) 2021 The Oregonian

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