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Thu, May 15, 2008

DoD Says Chinooks Vandalized On Ridley Park Production Line

Severed Wiring, "Suspicious Washer" Found On Two H-47s

ANN REALTIME UPDATE 05.15.08 1420 EDT: Vandalism. That is the assessment by officials with the Department of Defense of damage found on two H-47 Chinook helicopters on the production line at Boeing's plant in Ridley Park, PA.

The Associated Press reports DoD personnel confirmed wiring was cut on two helicopters. Tuesday's discovery of the damage shut the plant down.

"We have determined that this was a deliberate act and not an accident," said Ken Maupin, resident agent in charge of the Philadelphia area office of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

Work has since resumed at the plant, with federal officials passing out fliers offering a $5,000 reward for information regarding the incidents.

ANN will update this story as more information becomes available.

Original Report

1315 EDT: Is it accidental damage... or sabotage? Department of Defense officials are working to determine the nature of damage to two H-47 Chinook helicopters on the production line at Boeing's plant in Ridley Park, PA.

The Associated Press reports employees discovered severed wiring on one Chinook during a quality control inspection Tuesday, and a second with a "suspicious washer." Both helos were part of an eight-ship tranche being prepared for delivery to the US Army.

Production came to halt as workers scrambled to determine the reason for the suspect damage.

"Boeing production employees found the irregularities in 2 Chinooks on line and immediately notified management in accordance with standard procedures," the company said in a terse statement released Tuesday. "Boeing will continue to follow these processes rigorously so that the company completes and delivers flawless aircraft to its customers."

Production has since resumed at Ridley Park... under the watchful eye of investigators with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), a branch of the DoD. The Federal Bureau of Investigations is also involved.

"They have looked at six of the other aircraft they appear to be ok, but we'll know by tomorrow what may have caused the damage," Congressman Joseph Sestak (D-PA) told WPVI-6. "At the same time Boeing security force has been collaborating with them to try to investigate why this occurred. No one knows yet whether this is some unusual occurrence that just happened by accident or there is something of more concern."

No one at Ridley Park was willing to talk with reporters Wednesday. Members of Union 1069 refused to comment on the matter, and Boeing provided few details.

"Boeing will continue to cooperate with the Defense Contract Management Agency to close this incident," the company said Thursday. "Boeing Rotorcraft Systems employees have worked to resolve the issues as quickly and efficiently as possible. Boeing remains committed to delivering products that meet or exceed stringent quality standards and operational requirements to the men and women of the US Armed Forces and its allies."

Boeing is currently modernizing the Army's fleet of CH-47 Chinooks. In addition to use by several allied governments, the venerable twin-rotor aircraft are the workhorse vertical lift transports for the Army, Marines, and Special Forces operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.

FMI: www.boeing.com, www.defenselink.mil

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