LONDON – More than a million suspect counterfeit electronic components have been used in 1,800 separate cases of bogus parts affecting U.S. military hardware, according to a report produced by the Senate Armed Services Committee. The instances affect a number of military airplanes, helicopters, missile and electronic warfare systems.
The year-long investigation found large numbers of counterfeit parts – mainly from China – have been making their way into critical defense systems. A 112-report produced by the committee highlights cases in the U.S. Air Force's largest cargo plane and in assemblies intended to go in special operations helicopters and U.S. Navy surveillance planes.
"Our report outlines how this flood of counterfeit parts, overwhelmingly from China, threatens national security, the safety of our troops and American jobs," committee chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said, in a statement. "It underscores China's failure to police the blatant market in counterfeit parts – a failure China should rectify," he added.
The report concludes that China is responsible for more than 70 percent of the suspect components. The next two largest sources are the United Kingdom and Canada, although the committee identified instances were both these countries were reselling suspect counterfeit electronic components that originated in China.
Another conclusion was that the use of unvetted distributors to supply electronic parts meant that the Department of Defense (DoD) and defense contractors are frequently unaware of the ultimate source of parts used in defense systems and that this "results in unacceptable risks to national security and the safety of U.S. military personnel."
The report also concluded that known instances of the use of suspected counterfeit components were not reported promptly to the DoD by contractors.
In one example the report says electronic parts supplier Hong Dark Electronic Trade (Shenzhen, China) supplied 84,000 suspect parts into the DoD supply chain. These components were then used in Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) intended to be deployed on a number of platforms; into assemblies for the Excalibur artillery projectile, for Navy submarine imaging systems, and the Army Stryker mobile gun.Related links and articles:
Statement from the office of Carl Levin
Report of the Senate Armed Services Committee
News articles: IHS projects rise in counterfeit chips
Counterfeit chip R&D launched for DoD suppliers
IHS: Counterfeit parts represent $169 billion annual risk
Chip counterfeiting case exposes defense supply chain flaw