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U.S. Officials Warn of Counterfeit Weapons Components

- By - Source : AP

As you've probably guessed, China was implicated

Taking a playbook from cocaine dealers who cut their product with sugar or baking powder, certain elements are supposedly able to slip counterfeit weapons components into the Pentagon's supply chain. The practice, known as 'sprinkling', mixes the fake parts in with the real deal, the hope being that the weapon itself won't begin to malfunction until after it's been tested, approved, purchased and distributed amongst the troops. Such was the claim made to the Senate Armed Services committee hearing examining the problem.

During the proceedings, the Government Accountability Office, according to representative Richard J. Hillman, reported that they have been able to create a fictional company through which they purchased weapons components on the Internet. An analysis confirmed seven of these parts were counterfeits. Experts also testified that the potential damage to U.S. military interests could be measured in billions of dollars, as well as lives. Scary stuff to be sure, but a closer look at the proceedings indicates, however, that the threat is at this point largely conjectured.

No actual evidence of any sprinkling was provided during the hearing. The committee claims to have discovered 1700+ instances of possible - but still not fully confirmed - instances of counterfeit components in weapons purchased by the Military, involving more than a million individual parts. However, the DoD released a fact sheet claiming to have a QA process that reviews the authenticity of component parts, which employs more than 2000 people. They also add that there has been "no loss of life or catastrophic mission failure" resulting from such counterfeits.

Despite this, witnesses, including defense contractor representatives, a DoD officials and a government investigator, are claiming that such counterfeiters operate openly in China, and that the Chinese government does little if anything to stop them. Thomas Sharpe, VP of SMT Copr, which distributes electronic components, gave a presentation that claimed, among other things, that "Counterfeiting performed in Shantou was not regarded as IP theft or improper in any way. It was seen as a positive 'green initiative' for the repurposing of discarded electronic component material." Conspicuously absent from the proceedings was a representative of China.

These accusations, though serious, are part of a recent escalation in rhetoric from the United States regarding China. A U.S. intelligence report recently called China the "world's largest perpetrator" of industrial espionage, and U.S. trade representatives have taken issue with China's 'great firewall". Whether such rhetoric will be followed by an examination of U.S. trade agreements that enable countries like China to undercut their rivals using a combination of slave (like) labor and tarrifs is unclear. Likely the U.S. will continue to pursue a policy of having their cake and eating it too when it comes to whatever economic challenges China poses.

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icepick314 11/10/2011 6:08 PM
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here's an wild idea...

why not create manufacturing jobs IN US instead of China so you can control the quality of the components instead of relying on iffy foreign governments and companies?

hopiamani 11/10/2011 6:32 PM
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Theoretically "sprinkling" can be done in any industry....

The Chinese should realize the poor enforcement of intellectual property right discourages innovation among their own citizens which therefore harms their own economy.

Steveymoo 11/10/2011 6:34 PM
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Or you could just come up with a simple test to see which parts have the correct composition of metals during the quality testing stage. Even if you only tested 1 of every 10 parts bought from each manufacturer, chances are, you would catch them out.

dextermat 11/10/2011 6:43 PM
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allenpan 11/10/2011 6:46 PM
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hopiamani :
Theoretically "sprinkling" can be done in any industry....The Chinese should realize the poor enforcement of intellectual property right discourages innovation among their own citizens which therefore harms their own economy.



lol, that is only western thinking, in asia, companies copy and improve upond each other, they spend on research and design and try to become better than next person, instead of spending money on law suites or "intellectual properties"

serious all those money spent on "intellectual properties right" instead of going to R&D

so someone has a good design, go copy it and improve it better...that is the right way

Steveymoo 11/10/2011 6:53 PM
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Why was my comment even thumbed down? I'm serious, it's not difficult to test metal parts for authenticity using resonant inspection. When it comes to risking soldiers' lives, why make any compromise to your quality control?

http://www.ndt.net/article/hands2/hands2.htm

CTT 11/10/2011 7:05 PM
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cloned101 11/10/2011 7:42 PM
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Steveymoo :
Why was my comment even thumbed down? I'm serious, it's not difficult to test metal parts for authenticity using resonant inspection. When it comes to risking soldiers' lives, why make any compromise to your quality control?http://www.ndt.net/article/hands2/hands2.htm


Because they are talking about computer chips used in electronics. Its hard to test a silicon chip for metal composition. Also, random testing- even at 1 out of 10, would still miss 90% of counterfeits "sprinkled" amongst genuine products. It would only catch mass counterfeiting.

Anonymous 11/10/2011 7:50 PM
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@ Allenpan

Please, tell me why company A would spend 10 years and millions/billions of dollars on researching a new product if company B can simply copy their product 2 days later with no legal recourse. Perhaps you would feel differently if you develop a unique product only to find a large corporation has decided to simply force you out of the market with your own idea.

and you are right btw. Copy and steal is the large part of the Asian business model...

hopiamani 11/10/2011 9:07 PM
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@ allenpan

Copying and improving upon is different from copying and selling under the same brand (aka counterfeiting). You are mixing and idea of patents and copyright with piracy.

theFatHobbit 11/11/2011 1:01 AM
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if the main saving in outsourcing manufacturing to china is the labour force, improving worker conditions will probably lead to some silly people maintaining margins in other ways.

ooo 11/11/2011 3:28 AM
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JonnyDough 11/11/2011 3:48 AM
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CTT :
Ross, you a big China fan-boy or something? Lot of articles lately defending them.



Its best to be sure an enemy exists before picking a fight that will ultimately leave you both with horribly bloodied noses.

JonnyDough 11/11/2011 3:52 AM
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Also, just because China doesn't have American interests at heart does not mean that the government is not doing its job. We, as Americans must not be so selfish as to think that China needs to worry about us, our laws, etc. The international community must put pressure on China to change China. It is not our job, duty, etc. It is an international matter.

eddieroolz 11/11/2011 4:47 AM
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You'd have to wonder how something like this can even happen in the first place.