Fake Parts are Everywhere

Well, after months of research, Senate Armed Services Committee investigators have discovered “a flood” counterfet parts in everything from critical navigation software for newly modernized C-5 Galaxy cargo planes to “assemblies” destined for RQ-4 Global Hawk spy planes, submarines and even Stryker Mobile Gun Systems.

Now, we’ve known that fake parts — usually made in China — have been making their way into Defense Department maintenance depots for years. However, a brand new report by the SASC details how fake parts are making their way into some of the military’s newest and most advanced weapons systems. How many fake parts in DoD supply chains were discovered by the committee’s investigation? 84,000 from just one Chinese supplier.

Here’s a key excerpt from a SASC summary of the report:

The Committee’s report includes detailed descriptions of how counterfeits are flooding the supply chain, risking the performance and reliability of critical defense systems. In just one example described in the report, the U.S. Air Force says that a single electronic parts supplier, Hong Dark Electronic Trade of Shenzhen, China, supplied approximately 84,000 suspect counterfeit electronic parts into the DOD supply chain.

Parts from Hong Dark made it into Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) intended for the C-5AMP, C-12, and the Global Hawk. In addition, parts from Hong Dark made it into assemblies intended for the P-3, the Special Operations Force A/MH-6M, and other military equipment, like the Excalibur (an extended range artillery projectile), the Navy Integrated Submarine Imaging System, and the Army Stryker Mobile Gun.

The report goes on to state that China has shown little interest in doing anything to stop the flow of fake parts to the U.S. Even worse, “the Department of Defense lacks knowledge of the scope and impact of counterfeit parts on critical defense systems,” states the report.

In addition to the billions of dollars worth of economic damage the Chinese counterfeiting industry does to legit businesses, fake parts in high-end weapons systems pose a massive safety threat for obvious reasons. Oh, and don’t forget that counterfeit microchips put into a U.S. weapon could easily serve as a conduit for Chinese cyber attacks.

Click through the jump to read the report summary.

SASC Counterfeit Electronics Report 05-21-12

  • Andy

    Blame the Goverment, all the Electronic parts are manufacture in China, Gov. never set guide line.

  • Chris

    Part of the problem lies in the procurement process itself… not just with the integrity of the suppliers.

  • Cody

    at what point do we, the USA, realize that we need to stop producing everything in China – ESPECIALLY PARTS FOR OUR WEAPON SYSTEMS!

    its bad enough we let them get by putting spyware on Apple computers.

    Come on guys open your eyes.. Their economy is booming, while we are falling into poverty more and more each day. what a joke.

  • Ryan

    The simple solution is stop buying parts from Chinese suppliers. Implementing that is not a simple task though. This is not to say that all US manufacturers are perfect, but it should make the process simpler. We will have to be willing to pay more of course. But that is the age old debate, Price vs. Quality.

  • Pat

    The title made it sound like some kind of crazy $hit… Because it is some kind of crazy $hit.

  • Lance

    Time to fight back at China have a embargo of not all Chinese goods but all Chinese electronics till Beijing monitors there state own electronics companies better. Overall the sad days of the military buying foreign stuff brought this on. Time to bring back all American made goods!

    • WRG01

      I noticed a -1 on your post. While I am not a fan of an embargo, I agree that steps need to be taken to protect our technology and manufacturing fields. It is an issue of national security and of job security. Where the best military tech can be sourced elsewhere, I would argue for domestic production agreements much like we do with nations that procure some of something from us and then produce it for themselves at home.

      • notasblindasyou

        Wah Wah……………………….we had to outsource hemp during ww2 because it was made illegal by corporate interests. We have outsourced everything because our standard of living is too high and the minimum wage hinders consumerism. We have created this mess over the course of 50 years, you all from the previous generations wanted cheap goods that could be thrown away and nothing else. Well we got it, cheap goods, cheap enough to be thrown away while living a high quality life style left over from the boom after ww2. Corporate interests have kept wages stagnant for 40 years, and in a nation based on consumerism this spells death.

        China is being used as the scapegoat. Anyone remember how the nazis originally claimed the jews were behind the hard times in germany after ww1? hmmmmm……………………………

        • WRG01

          You just explained free-market reasons for this mess. You did not, however, address the need for a protected defense technology and an industrial base. Skilled labor in this nation has suffered at the hands of those who would supplant their personal greed and a distorted view of prosperity for what is in the general national interest. China does not play on a level field and will undersell us, yes…and they do so not because of naturally cheaper labor alone, but because of illegal and unfair trade practices. China has declared economic war on the West with counterfeit products for decades. Farm equipment in Europe, industrial bearings in the US and Canada…very real and very destructive issues. Inferior Chinese steel has been responsible for lost lives around the world, to include the US…what is at issue here is one of National Security, not Dollar General merchandise.

    • Benjamin

      China is most likely to some degree actively supporting the companies that are supplying these fake parts to the U.S. It is in China’s national interest for this to continue, why would they want to stop it?

      • Lance

        Well time for making all of our military equipment here enough outsourcing or working with international firms.

    • Joeblow

      Why are we still giving tax breaks to American companies that outsource? Because the TEA baggers in Congress favor the tax break. The TEA baggers are filthy traitors to this country.

  • Josh

    This is something that really ****** me off and scares me. The entire concept of producing out military’s weapons, some of the most sophisticated in the world, in a frenemy country or any foriegn country for that mayter is beyond idiotic. Sure, labor is cheaper bit at what cost to our security needs and military lives? We could create jobs y producing them here In the states… And we wouldnt have to wrry about our best aircraft being produced in china of all places. How stupid can our government and defense industry get? I pray someone fixes the whole way our weapons are made, and even if they fix all the faulty parts, your letting china produce it… I mean really? Am i the only one who sees this as completely stupid beyond belief?

    • Cptn(ret) Gabriel

      Dear Josh and better Comarade:
      You are not stupid! Politicians and high pay roll Executive Goverment Officials are made up his own business,and as mob gang they are protected themselves.
      Meanwhile when our boys are flying all over the world protecting our skyes,they could falling down,and the press ask” What had happens?” Easy such aircraft was suplyed with Chinesse electronics parts!!
      Bottom line: we militarys,are a number only for them…unfortunately

  • Josh

    This is something that really pisses me off and scares me. The entire concept of producing out military’s weapons, some of the most sophisticated in the world, in a frenemy country or any foriegn country for that mayter is beyond idiotic. Sure, labor is cheaper bit at what cost to our security needs and military lives? We could create jobs y producing them here In the states… And we wouldnt have to wrry about our best aircraft being produced in china of all places. How stupid can our government and defense industry get?

    • harhar

      if all of the parts were made here, we would have to have high enough wages to support the tax revenue needed to purchase said goods……… see how this works?

  • 4FingerOfBouron

    And the sad things is we are probably not going to do anything about it!

  • Andy

    you guys can thumb down my post all you want, but the fact are none of the ELECTRONIC parts are made here in the US……just name one part….CAPACITOR, IC, RESISTOR ETC…. are all made in China…AGAIN the gov. are clueless before it too late…..

  • Dfens

    The “made in China” software was clearly not a “mistake” or a “fake”. It was one more defense contractor lining their own pockets with taxpayer dollars.

  • vok

    Unfortunately, the situation is beyond the point of reversibility already. You won’t able to find US vendors capable of fabricating basic electronic components. I’m talking about engineering expertise, manufacturing, QA, etc, the entire life cycle of product. They are all gone. You stop importation, the final assembly lines stay idle, regardless of cost of doing business. The other day I posted an article here and pointed out the madness of outsourcing. I was re-educated by some hot shot who claims the new era of US technical dominance by using Facebook and Yahoo as examples. Well, good luck with that.

    • blight_

      Software innovation is nice, but unless you want to run on someone else’s hardware…

    • Actually, that’s not true. I work for a company that is a competitor for these contract parts, made right here in Phoenix. AND we are still going strong. They are a problem, but NOT EVERY PIECE is made overseas, nor are a danger to the future of our security. Now, if some of these other contractors would stop buying sub-standard, counterfeit parts…

    • Joeblow

      To paraphrase V.I. Lenin, the capitalists will sell the rope to the ones who will hang them.

  • blight_

    Trying to imagine what WW2 would be like if America didn’t have factories and instead used a foreign power to supply parts, with the parts suddenly getting cut off during wartime.

    Sounds an awful lot like the fuel shortage that drove Japan into WW2 and the tungsten/POL shortages that stymied Germany.

    • Dfens

      Damn straight. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

  • Uranium238

    Two Words: Sabotage and Espionage.

    The people who authorized foreign production of these chips should be tried for treason on both terms state above. Who the hell knows what the Chicoms wrote on those chips. They could push a button and cause the entire software interface to shut down on our combat aircraft carrying these bad chips. Makes me almost wonder now what Chinese electronic hardware was installed to monitor the F-22’s life support systems.

  • StrumPanzer

    What we need to do is stop buying foreign parts and start producing a military electrics and parts here in the US where we can keep a close eye on them. Also any company caught trying to sell counterfeit parts should have large fines levied against them.

  • Tribulationtime

    If all that is so big, so broad…..

  • You might have higher up-front costs if these components were manufactured in the USA; but the US military are currently paying for the in-service inspection of all these parts – carrying out the manufacturers and suppliers own QA checks for them, and paying for the replacement parts. They’ll also have to pay for the repair of secondary damage – genuine parts that may be damaged by sub-standard counterfit parts, or for the loss of equipment altogether.
    Higher production costs, making this stuff in the US, but part of those higher wages would return to the government in taxes, maintenance costs would be reduced, and likely new jobs would be created. Taken altogether, buying from off-shore suppliers could be a false economy.

  • Sgt. Pipe

    Not just China….I remember doing a repair on a Laser range finder in am M1,and finding ALOT of parts inside were made in Israel…..I had an earlier M60A3 that had LRF parts made in Brazil……go figure..

    • Josh

      Still, I’d be far less concerned about parts made in Israel, or for that matter Brazil, then I would for Chinese parts!

  • Jared

    I hope the counterfeit parts in navigation software was a typo and is meant to be navigation hardware.

  • Mark

    I don’t trust China further than I can spit China.

    The next world war will be with China.

  • kim

    On a positive note, the way government oversight works in China (corruption on all levels), their planes and other weapons systems must have been built MAINLY with counterfeit parts.

    • Nessuno

      That’s basically right. In many cases, “counterfeit” suppliers to us or primary parts suppliers to others

    • Joel

      The original parts are applied to chinese military equipment, meanwhile the fakes or those that didn’t passed the QC were sent to US.

    • Riceball

      Doubt it, I’m pretty sure that their QC for their own products is much higher than what it is when it comes to goods for other countries Plus, I’m pretty certain that getting caught counterfeiting goods for the Chinese military/government is punishable by a 9mm to the head, very good incentive for not cheating the government if you ask me.

  • Guest

    Well, as a person who used to work in the defense/industrial complex and who did parts sourcing for government projects, the companies who used to make electronic parts mil qualified got out of the business when it became unprofitable to do so. You need 1000 full mil spec resistors. Who wants to open up a production line to make 1000 resistors? No one does. So production lines got shut down and people laid off.

    Lots of blame to go around over this issue. We had excess manufacturing capacity and trained people in the years leading up to WWII. Now those trained people are retiring, the factories are shuttered, the environmentalists are happier, and we lack the ability to make many very fundamental products.

    The next war is going to be a come as you are and hope you can hold out long enough to build weapons.

    • Joeblow

      I thought capitalism solves everything. That’s what the TEA baggers say.

    • Chimp

      9mm to the head? Never… 7.62mm. 9mm is a reactionary calibre.

  • Ben

    There ought to be a law passed requiring that all U.S. military equipment consist of nothing but 100% American-made content.

    • Riceball

      The Berry Amendment sort of covers that to a degree, it dictates that everything made for the US military must be made in the US but I don’t think that it says that everything that goes into the given product has to be made in the US though, just the final product.

    • MorbiusIX

      Considering that Americans have a proven limited memory capacity concering history the Question is when was the Law governing only Certified parts made in USA or by an established ally for the US military changed and by whom

    • pale male


  • icedrake

    Can someone explain to me what a “part” is in a software package, and how exactly one “counterfeits” it?

    • PolicyWonk

      A part in these situations, refers to in many cases microprocessors (i.e. “chips”) that are used in many products. For example, a new BMW 3-series car had 65 separate computer chips that perform all kinds of tasks, from monitoring the cars brakes, to controlling the fuel mixture, adjusting the fuel injectors, to cabin climate control and navigation (via GPS).

      The Chinese have been provided (in many cases) the technologies, engineering, and manufacturing processes to create sophisticated computer chips, as part of the deal to get access to Chinese markets. If you have the technologies (check!), manufacturing processes (check!), and plenty of resources (check!), producing fakes (not as reliable b/c they take short-cuts, use inferior materials, don’t test as much, and are government subsidized) and lying about it (putting fake labels on the products) it is possible to sell the parts as originals (especially when given the OK by the government).

  • wildhare

    was it worth taking our jobs and giving them to a chinaman. i would have done a great job because its for my county….. so you get what you paid for.

  • Walter F. Barber

    I Handled government sales for my company during the 70’s and 80’s. We lost a bid to an outfit we never heard of. The winning price, wouldn’t cover the cost of our labor and materials, much less a profit. My competitor’s Government Sales rep’s reaction was the same as mine. Both companies protested the award. My company designed and built the original for Chrysler. We sent laboratory certified test reports with operating specs with our protest letter. Long story short, The winner’s units were China built and didn’t come anywhere near meeting the requirements!!! The bid was thrown out and we got the business. We found our there were absolutely no incoming inspections made on the Military parts!! They were shipped directly to Government destinations for issue. The DOD Procurement Group at Wright Patterson AFB visited us to see how we inspect and test out going products as well as incoming components. The Government was supplied with documents both from us and our worthy competitor and then they wrote their own inspection procedures, Did they stop inspecting all incominvg materials?

  • hikerguy

    Well, to misquote an ancient Chinese general, to know your enemy (and sell them fake substandard parts) is to destroy him.

  • ski

    Its just sad that the DOD is figuring this out now. It’s something I thought we would of taken advantage of a decade ago. We need to think like an underdog not a Super Power.

  • ski

    We should have the capability to now build automated factories that specialize and can produce at least 90% of parts. The production line would always be busy.

  • ltfunk

    If China disappeared tomorrow the contractors would source fake parts from somewhere else.

    As William C says – “why not defraud the US people” its not like the contractors owe any loyalty to them.

  • Jay

    So what are we going to do about this problem is the question.

  • Disty guy

    Very easy to stop this, require contractors and sub contractors to buy only from franchised distributors. Fine them the first time if they get busted, fine them even more the second time and then disqualify them for 5 years from government contracts if they get caught a third time. They aren’t getting fake parts from legit distributors, it’s these brokers that they use. You know, the ones that advertise that they are “authorized” for every mfr under the sun, can get you parts anywhere in the world, etc…..Very simple fix.

  • PolicyWonk

    This is part of what Pat Buchanan complained about in his editorials from 2002-2008, when he implored the administration to stop the policies that encouraged US manufacturers to move dual-use technologies (and hard-won manufacturing techniques, let alone the engineering) to China. The loss of jobs and the tax base were only part of what he complained about – it was also the experience of the Russians who had been selling military equipment to the Chinese because they were desperate for hard currency.

    The Russian experience included massive re-engineering/outright thievery of technologies, then re-branding as Chinese product time and time again. The Chinese government, as noted above, refused to do anything about it. Why anyone thought the US experience would be different is likely beyond the comprehension of most first-graders.

    The USA *must* bring its mission critical manufacturing back to the US. Having to rely on the Chinese for military grade parts is asinine, and the allowing of the US government of these critical technology/manufacturing transfers in return for access to Chinese markets demonstrates that the lobbying system MUST be killed off. Our government has ceased protecting the US taxpayers interests, and has severely compromised our national security.

  • J Cain

    Every since we (USofA) told them chicom bastards they couldn’t nor wouldn’t repossess their Taiwanese Isl., we have been at war. Except our arrogance to what Communism really stands for has allowed that war to be one sided. How is it said best? **** me once shame on you. **** me twice shame on me. Well I have to ask all of you, “Really, who’s to blame?”

  • Jay

    The government passed the “Berry Amendment” requiring critical things like boots and shirts be made in good old USA. You can find plenty of mil surplus clothing and boots that are Berry compliant.

    The law did not include things that are actually mission critical, but at least we know our boots and T-shirts are safe from Chinese espionage.

  • steve

    Our Congressional Leaders should trace back and pinpoint just who it was that authorized China as a Special trading partner., that allowed them to flood our markets with their products? Especially any military parts that has NOW caused GREAT concern for these parts reliabilities??? A perfect set-up to destroy the efficiency of Our weapons systems without firing a shot in anger a perfect fool-proof method for Sabotage! Again it can said….follow the money to get to the bottom of it….. Don’t overlook Walmart Stores better known as Chinese Outlets in the USA, and General Motors has joined the group?

  • DDay

    Did you notice that they always refer to it as suspect counterfeit. What the heck is that? Is that different than a counterfeit part? Is it the same as a non-counterfeit part? Do they know? Is there a difference between a suspected good part and a suspected counterfeit part? Which one do you rely on in an airplane? Would we all feel better if Boeing came out and said “you know we suspect those parts are good?”

    Shouldn’t they use the word known counterfeit? Would it suddenly shrink the occurrences down significantly? There could easily be 70K suspect counterfeit parts report, but only 700 known counterfeits. The rest may just be different from other ic’s off different production lines.

    The only way to protect against suspected counterfeits is to manufacture the chips you sell to yourself, and never take a return. The minute a manufacturer or Franchised Distributor takes a return the potential for a counterfeit part to enter the channel. It happens all the time. No company selling components should be considered safe.

  • David Franz

    As several posters have already stated, this country no longer has the capability to supply these parts. And, unless you are willing to spend far more for your ipods, we won’t get it back. Also, how do you find electronic parts to repair a system build 30 years ago? Some of these parts literally have to be scrounged from the dump. The only solution is to test the new or repaired items to see if they can do the job. Procedures for this testing are well established, c.f. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_stress….

  • Speedy

    Pay them in counterfeit money.

    (It is China afterall, they will be used to it, my chinese wife points out that up to 25% of the currency in circulation is fake.)

  • Herb

    The US corporate execs are making tons of $$ and keeping their benefits while the Chinese workers work for pennies and the US workers collect unemployment. How patriotic? My son just came back from a usmc tour overseas and has no job prospects… Maybe if he moves to China he can get a job as a “guest worker”

  • GCD

    Low cost and shark of bussiness , are the only one guilty in your problem . This occurs in all the countries of the wold , people that don’t mather lives of your brothers in the name of the money . Americnas don’t have work because this bussiness . A group send to manufacturing parts in foreign countries , most cheaper , more money for them ,bud bad quality and risk in the security and corruption in the middle . It’s the old history of the world . All the nations need man of honor , ther are a few in the world . Grandathers live for honor , this generation is different . All the nations need to comeback to the antique times , here , the word of a men have a real and true value .

  • Rick

    Somebody, whether Demo. or Repub..WHEN did DOD BEGIN purchasing Military Parts, equipment, eg. choppers ets from specifically China and Russia?
    Let’s develop the “Blame Game”…Causual and Effect?

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