Legislation Being Drafted To Address
Problem of Counterfeit Military Parts
Counterfeit electronic parts are emerging as a growing problem for the military, cutting down
on the reliability and sustainability of programs like
the Navy’s SH-60B helicopter and P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine patrol aircraft, the Senate Armed Services
Committee revealed Nov. 7.
During its months-long investigation, the committee
uncovered approximately 1,800 individual cases of suspect counterfeit parts in the military’s supply chain, with
the total number of suspect parts exceeding 1 million.
In 70 percent of the cases reviewed, staff traced the
parts back to counterfeiters in China, which committee leaders said impeded the investigation and refused
to provide visas for investigators despite repeated
requests to the embassy in Washington and through
U.S. diplomats in Hong Kong and Beijing.
Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich.,
told reporters the 1,800 cases the committee discovered
represent “just the tip of the iceberg,” stressing that the
problem of counterfeit parts is a pervasive one that affects
weapons across the military.
“There’s a flood of counterfeit parts entering the
defense supply chain,” Levin said. “It is endangering our
troops and it is costing us a fortune.”
Replacing the counterfeit gear with legitimate parts
can cost the government millions of dollars, the committee found. But Senate Armed Services ranking member John McCain, R-Ariz., argued there are other long-term repercussions, including driving up costs for sustaining weapons and reducing their reliability.
Alarmed by what was described as “a flood of counterfeit
parts entering the defense supply chain,” Senate Armed
Services Committee ranking member John McCain, R-Ariz.,
right, and Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., expressed concern
about the long-term repercussions of the problem with
regard to cost, reliability and safety. They are shown here
during a committee hearing Dec. 2, 2010.
“A counterfeit part can pass production testing, but even if it does,
we don’t know how long it’ll work,
how well it’ll work and what happens when it fails,” McCain said.
The committee found counterfeit
transistors on the Forward-Looking
Infrared System (FLIR) aboard the
SH-60B, which is deployed on the
USS Gridley in the Pacific for anti-
submarine and anti-surface mis-
sions. If the FLIR failed, it would
affect the crew’s ability to see at night
and target their Hellfire missiles.