John McCain, Republican-Arizona, and Carl Levin, Democrat-Michigan, say that the Chinese are putting U.S. troops at risk and undercutting the American economy by selling counterfeit electronics to the Pentagon.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is conducting an ongoing investigation into the deceptive process in which parts are burned off old circuit boards, washed in rivers, dried on streets and sanded down to remove identifying marks. The salvaged parts, which can look brand new, are sold on the Internet or openly in the markets.
Investigators found that counterfeit or suspect electronic parts were installed or delivered to the military for several weapons systems. They include military aircraft such as the Air Force’s C-17 and the Marine Corps’ CH-46 helicopter, as well as the Army’s Theatre High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile defense system.
The lawmakers indicated they would push for amendments to a defense bill to limit counterfeit electronics in the supply chain.
McCain, the top Republican on the committee, said: ‘We can’t tolerate the risk of a ballistic missile interceptor failing to hit its target, a helicopter pilot unable to fire his missiles or any other mission failure because of a counterfeit part.’
Investigators traced more than 70 per cent of the cases to China. Nearly 20 per cent led to the United Kingdom and Canada.
They said material in Hong Kong was trucked to cities in mainland China, specifically to the counterfeiting district of Shantou in Guangdong Province.
Mr Levin said China could stop the deception if it wanted to.
‘And they’re going to have to stop it or else they’re going to pay a heavy price if we start inspecting all of their parts that are coming into this country, because the only way to separate the wheat from the chaff is through inspections, if they keep sending us chaff,’ he said.