It is no secret that China is trying to gain a military advantage over the USA is any way it can. Another way that China could gain an advantage over the USA has come to light.
The US military uses an immense number of computer chips in all its many types of necessary equipment. Due to the rigorous demands made upon computer chips by US military equipment, these computer chips need to be able to withstand conditions that “regular” computer chips are not designed to handle. The link below, from the Homeland Security Newswire, cites extremely cold temperatures as one environmental condition that military computer chips must withstand. Although not cited in this article, another special challenge that military computer chips need to be able to withstand is an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) blast.
Unfortunately, counterfeit computer chips from China have been making their way into the USA in incredible numbers. The link states that in the two and one-half years prior to May, 2010, “US Customs officials seized 5.6 million bogus chips.” One wonders if that many were seized, how many slipped through undetected. It is known that the US military has bought counterfeit chips for its weapons systems. The US Navy is cited as one military buyer that bought counterfeit computer chips, and counterfeit chips were also found in the flight-control systems of the USAF’s F-15 warplanes. The report also states that “fourteen military organizations” had been found to have had counterfeit computer chips in their equipment. Again, one wonders how many counterfeit computer chips are still embedded in US military equipment and not yet discovered. This poses a real danger as these counterfeit computer chips could easily fail in the extreme demands of combat or certain missions and US weapons systems could fail to function as a result of failures in unremoved counterfeit chips.
American civilian and commercial entities are also at risk due to counterfeit chips. The link notes that counterfeit chips are “assured” to now be present in “all kinds of systems” such as phone links, nuclear power plants, electrical grids, banking networks, etc.
Isn’t there a law that all computer chips to be placed in any military system and in all critical civilian infrastructure applications need to be manufactured in the USA? If there is no such law, there should be one. I also wonder if Chinese counterfeit chips that are placed in critical US military or critical civilian equipment have been fitted with some kind of electronic “back door” programming that will enable them to be shut down if they receive a certain electronic signal from a Chinese agent or broadcast facility. If so, this spells major dangers for the USA in the future.
My thanks to a reader who sent this link to me.