Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Scary Stuff

The Senate Armed Services Committee recently published a study concerning counterfeit electronic parts finding their way into military aircraft. The study's conclusions sent chills up my spine:

1: China is the dominant source country
2: The Chinese government has failed to take steps to stop counterfeiting operations that are taking place openly.
3: The DoD lacks knowledge of the scope and impact of these parts on critical defense systems
4: Counterfeit electronics can compromise the performance and reliability, risk national security and endanger the life of military personnel
5: Permitting contractors to recover any costs incurred as a result of their own failure to detect these parts does not encourage the adoption of aggressive detection programs
6: The defense industry's reliance on unvetted distributors results in unacceptable risks to national security and safety of military personnel
7: Weaknesses in the testing regime for electronic parts creates vulnerabilities that are exploited by counterfeiters
8: The defense industry routinely failed to report cases of suspected counterfeit parts

To read the entire report, go here.

The use of counterfeit parts has long been a concern of mine and others. China is well known as the counterfeit capital of the world. Even when you get a "certificate" from an international authority, you cannot be certain that it is not a forgery. And once a part has passed through several distributors, it is difficult to trace its country of origin. We are seeing this now in things like pipe fittings, bolts and small valves.

And if you think this is limited to the military, don't be fooled. Remember the Chinese dry wall fiasco after Katrina? Remember the lead paint on childrens toys? Now take a look and see how much of what you buy is "Made in China". Now stop and think.....what if the engine on the plane you are flying in was overhauled using Chinese parts? Do the bolts have the proper strength? Are the turbine blades in the engine made of the correct high temperature material?

When your life can hang on the integrity of something as simple as a bolt and nut, you want them to be the best and not counterfeit.

And here is some final food for thought.....If China thinks they may have to fight the US at some time in the future, wouldn't it benefit them if our weapons systems failed at critical times?

4 comments:

Old NFO said...

That it would, and they can even 'distress' the parts to make them look used... sigh

Clay said...

Far scarier stuff ~10 years ago.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cox_Report

The Cox Report. Bipartisan report to Congress. Cox and Dicks wrote the report (no, I'm not making that up). It was finally declassified (heavily redacted) in 1999. I remember this being a big deal during the 2000 debates. And then... Nothing. Not a peep.

Clay said...

Also, here's one of Wired's writeups of the report you reference:

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/06/chips-oy-spies-want-to-hack-proof-circuits/

henrylivingston said...

For a deep dive into this subject ...
Counterfeit Parts