The Counterfeit Epidemic That Can Kill


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In August 2011, a prime contractor warned the United States Navy that there were suspect, reworked parts that should never have been placed on one of their aircraft and that should be replaced immediately.

How is it possible a trusted, world-renowned manufacturer detected that it had installed a suspect or fraudulent part in its aircraft? The prime had subcontracted with another sub-prime contractor, who was retained to produce ice detection systems for the aircraft.

In a message to the U.S. Navy marked “Priority: Critical,” the company blamed the part, a Xilinx field programmable gate array, for the failure. This critical component was not bought from Xilinx direct or from one of their authorized distributors. Rather, this suspect part was traced upstream within the supply chain and had made its way through independent distributors in California, Florida, Japan, and China.

If you are thinking that perhaps this is an anomaly, consider this. The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee investigation revealed that more than 1 million counterfeit components likely exist within the U.S. military supply chain. If the supply chain of the finest military in the world can be infiltrated by 1 million counterfeit components, it’s more than likely it can happen to your supply chain.

Read the full column here.


Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of SMT Magazine.

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