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Lockheed Fires Back at Prison Labor Charge

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The defense behemoth claims the government is wrong to say it uses prison labor in the process of making parts for patriot missiles.

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On Monday, I wrote an article about federal prisoners in the DOJ/BOP Federal Prison Industries/Unicor work program manufacturing components for Patriot missiles (in addition to cable assemblies for the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing (BA) F-15, the General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16, Bell/Textron's (TXT) Cobra helicopter, as well as electro-optical equipment for the BAE Systems Bradley Fighting Vehicle's laser rangefinder).

In a nutshell, Unicor (formerly known as Federal Prison Industries), is a company wholly-owned by the US government and run by the Bureau of Prisons, a division of the Department of Justice. (To be clear, this has nothing at all to do with private prisons run by outfits like the Corrections Corporation of America (CXW) or The Geo Group (GEO). This is a United States government program operating in government-run institutions.)

The story was picked up yesterday by Wired magazine's Danger Room, and the tale of the Patriot missile/Unicor connection began making the rounds.

Then, this morning, an email from the Lockheed Martin (LMT) Missiles and Fire Control division arrived in my inbox:

SUBJECT: A Correction Of Your Patriot Story Is Required

Justin:

We have been in contact with the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command Lower Tier Project Office, who is responsible for the Patriot missile program, and have received confirmation that absolutely no part or component produced by Unicor is being or has ever been used in the PAC-3 Missile, of which Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor.

The U.S. Army Lower Tier Project Office has made an official, written request of Unicor to remove all references to the PAC-3 Missile from its Web site as soon as possible.

We respectfully request that a correction to your story be made immediately that clearly states that no component or part from Unicor has been or is being used in the production or repair of the PAC-3 Missiles, and that you expunge all references in the story to Lockheed Martin and the PAC-3 Missile.

Clearly, the story as written is completely inaccurate when it comes to Lockheed Martin and the PAC-3 Missile, and the comments made by those you interviewed in your story that specifically mention PAC-3 and Lockheed Martin are also inaccurate as a result of being predicated upon incorrect assumptions.

I am more than happy to discuss this matter should you wish to speak in person.

Craig Vanbebber
Senior Manager – Media Relations
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control
972-XXX-XXXX (office)
214-XXX-XXXX (cell)


Well, color me confused. If Unicor is printing untruths based on "incorrect assumptions," then someone has some explaining to do:




(Click here for the Unicor electronics sales brochure.)

Further, Unicor's own marketing materials exude a considerable amount of pride in the fact that they have been such an integral part of the PAC-3 program:




(Click HERE to access this section of Unicor's website.)

If you can't quite make out what it says, here are the relevant sections:

"UNICOR/FPI has successfully implemented surged production to supply electronics and electrical components for Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missile propulsion, guidance and targeting systems."

It goes on to explain:

"We assemble and distribute the Intermediate Frequency Processor (IFP) for the PAC-3 seeker. The IFP receives and filters radio-frequency signals that guide the missile toward its target."

Unicor also proudly points out:

"The Patriot Advanced Control (PAC-3) missile is launched from canisters, many of which have UNICOR/FPI-manufactured cable assemblies linking the ignition and control systems."

And then, well… there's this:




Oh, and this:




This information is, and has been, publicly available for a number years, hiding in plain sight. Could it possibly be that Lockheed Martin, one of the most advanced and capable defense contractors simply never happened to notice that the DoD, the Army, the Bureau of Prisons, and the Department of Justice had intentionally disseminated completely erroneous information for all to see?

I spoke with Lockheed's Vanbebber and inquired as to how the multiple US government agencies with a hand in Unicor's operations could possibly employ such a sloppy vetting process.

"I can't speculate as to why or how that information got in there," Vanbebber said. "I just don't know. You know, when you're dealing with the government, everything goes through such an extensive approval process, but, well, the information you've got is just wrong. I really couldn't tell you how this happened to slip through the cracks."

Sounds like the Department of Justice needs to fire its proofreader.

*As of this writing, Unicor has not modified, altered, updated, or removed any information regarding federal inmates' role in the PAC-3 missile program.

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