Bootleg electronic components have found their way onto the US Air Force’s aircraft. An investigation by the Congress has exposed counterfeit electronic parts being used by major aircraft corporations Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky.
The two-year probe was conducted by the US Senate Armed Services Committee. Overall, 1,800 cases of counterfeit electronic parts being used have been exposed.
The Committee concluded that a huge number of fake electronic parts being used in the production of military aircraft, night vision devices, radio stations and GPS navigation modules pose a serious threat to national security.
Among others, the use of counterfeit electronic parts has been proven on the Alenia C-27J Spartan medium-sized military transport aircraft, Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon long-range surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, Lockheed Martin’s turboprop military transport aircraft C-130J Super Hercules and Sikorsky’s SH-60B Seahawk helicopter used by the US Navy.
About 70 per cent of the fake electronic microchips were traced as being produced in China; the rest came from Canada and Great Britain.
The investigation revealed a scheme whereby large-scale producers bought counterfeit electronic chips from subcontractors who have established links with pirates.
Electronic counterfeit is a multibillion business in China. This has led to counterfeit electronic parts flooding the market and being traded openly.
The American administration attempted to make Chinese authorities pay closer attention to the issue, but has failed so far. Still, Washington is not idle. On December 31, 2011 President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act. This aims to prevent counterfeit electronic components from flooding the US and its armed forces.
The US Senate Armed Services Committee report says the use of electronic devices not only endangers those servicemen using them, but in the end leads to higher budgetary expenditure. The unfolding scandal threatens the Pentagon with a real crisis, undermining plans to considerably cut military expenditure in the following 10 years.