Phony electronic parts have wound up at the U.S. Missile Defense Agency seven times in the past five years, its director told Congress on Tuesday. None of the fakes were actually deployed in active combat situations. But if they had, it might have imposed “a cost that could be measured in lives lost,” Lieutenant General Patrick O’Reilly warned the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday.
The flood of counterfeit goods creeping into military systems spotlights how vulnerable defense contractors’ supply chains have become, and how tricky it is to regulate them. Because the military tends to use its weapons systems for decades, its contractors have to turn to middlemen with stockpiles of obsolete parts.
For years, the Pentagon has been in overdrive trying to avoid bogus chips from tripping up its ballistic missile protection systems, even worse still, a nightmare scenario of “Trojan horse” circuits from being embedded in parts. But foreign chip-makers are banging out these chips more and more cheaply, making it harder to track what’s getting mixed into military devices.“There’s a lot of counterfeiting going on. It’s a clear and present danger. It is a threat to our troops and we are not going to let it go on,” vowed Committee chair Sen. Carl Levin.
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