Large numbers of counterfeit Chinese electronic parts have been used in the construction of US military equipment, a Senate Armed Services Committee report has revealed.
According to the report, a year-long investigation discovered 1,800 instances in military aircraft including, the US Navy’s SH-60B helicopters and P-8A Poseidon, as well as the Air Force’s C-130J Hercules and C-27J Spartan cargo transport planes.
The report identified the Chinese companies as suppliers of more than 70% of an estimated one million suspected parts, with the UK and Canada as the next largest sources.
The report said that US military workers rely on a variety of ‘small, incredibly sophisticated electronic components’, which are largely found in night vision systems, radios and GPS devices, and the failure of a single component could jeopardise soldiers’ lives.
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The Committee has attributed the flood of fake parts to flaws in the US supply chain, China’s failure to curb the counterfeit market, and claims that Beijing was openly allowing such operations in the country.
As part of the investigation, efforts by committee officials seeking visas to travel to China had been unsuccessful.
‘Rather than acknowledging the problem and moving aggressively to shut down counterfeiters, the Chinese government has tried to avoid scrutiny’, the report added.
The report also described Department of Defense (DoD) programmes such as the Government-Industry Data Exchange Program (GIDEP), intended to log suspected fake parts, as ‘woefully lacking’.
Of the total 217 reports received by the programme between 2009 and 2010, the majority of the instances relating to suspected fake counterfeit parts were filed by six companies, in contrast to only 13 reports from government agencies.
Image: US Air Force’s C-130J Hercules takes off for Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, US. Photo: courtesy of Lockheed Martin, Thinh Nguyen.