Over the past 7 years some counterfit elctronic parts have managed to get into the supply chain. I can explain the situation.
The contractors arent buying these chips to cut corners. They absolutely believe they are buying legitimate parts. So how does this happen?
Most of the time Ive seen this, the contractor is dealing with obsolete part issues. With significantly longer design cycles and much longer field life than consumer electronics, its not uncommon to see ICs go obsolete during a products production. It then becomes a question of finding the parts from alternative sources rather than the mfr, or spending tons of money to redesign the product, and then spending likely 10X that re-qualifying it. Government agents usually authorize buying from distribution and as a last resort.....brokers. Legitimate brokers buy excess inventory from many companies and then sell it at inflated rates.
The NDAA for Fiscal Year 2013 has a requirement that all contractors must established a counterfeit avoidance/detection system approved by the DOD.
This should prevent counterfit parts from getting into the supply chain.
I can’t speak with much authority on shipboard parts, but for aircraft, the big problem is DLA (Defense Logistics Agency). DoD organizations have typically managed parts on their own platforms. In recent years, the aircraft program offices have been accused of over-spending on parts and being in bed with the OEMs. The “solution”, as determined by the bean-counters, was to transfer logistics management to DLA.
The problem is that DLA will buy parts from anybody. Their QA is shoddy at best. Every decision they make is based on bottom-line price. To DLA, buying avionics and landing gear sets is no different than buying staplers and ballpoint pens. To them, it’s just a part number and NSN on a piece of paper.
To DLA, the conventional contracting process is inconvenient for them. The QA and contracting requirements are a lot more lax for surplus purchases. So DLA is buying all kinds of surplus that are older than dirt. In a lot of cases, they’re parts that were found bad on previous contracts. The suppliers didn’t throw them away, they sat on them for 10-15 years knowing that they could sell them to the govt. on surplus because record-keeping circa 1995 was not good at all. The govt. did nearly everything on paper up until about 2003, so finding evidence of bad quality and records of contracts that were terminated for default are nearly impossible, and DLA doesn’t care anyway. They’ll buy anybody’s garbage. The only thing they care about is getting the task off their desk. What’s going on is really a travesty. I’d be surprised if DLA WASN’T doing the same thing to the Navy.