Counterfeit Electronics In Military Weapons

Boeng and the US military found some systems on new P-8 Posiedons to be defective. The culprit: counterfeit electronics. These are scrap parts from 80s-90s electronics that have been re-branded and sold to the government as new.  Many of the parts have been linked to dealers in China, but the Chinese government feels no need to pursue this(according to the article).

There is an amendment to a defense operation bill in the works that requires all parts from china to undergo rigorous inspection and testing before installation.  Regardless of your stance on military action or military spending or whatever political aspect you want to connect this with, we can all agree that dangerous things designed to destroy stuff and kill people should not have defective electrics, right?

[via Adafruit]

152 thoughts on “Counterfeit Electronics In Military Weapons

  1. I’d rather they pass a law requiring all parts for military equipment be manufactured in the US. It’s stupid for the US government to be supporting Chinese companies (which in turn support the Chinese military).

    1. Manufacturing the end devices in the US for military projects is one thing (I work for a group in my company that does this) and we exclusively manufacture everything in the US even for our other customers, but buying all of the parts that go into the devices from the US is impossible! There are literally thousands of parts on the PCBs. But we have a hell of a time finding US made resistors, let alone the processors, crystals, LEDs, LCDs … and all of the other things that go into it.

  2. I remember years ago when I received a email requesting that I provide DOD an inventory of all networking equipment and servers that had parts from China in them. I called the guy who sent the email and told him it would’ve been easier to request a inventory of all networking and server equipment that DID NOT have parts from China in them. It’d be a short list of nothing.

    When companys move manufacturing to another country, you get what you pay for.

  3. That’s incredibly worrying. And it raises the even more concerning issue, of hardware which is not just defective but actively malicious. If you’re buying chips from God knows where for something as critical as this you have no idea what kind of “features” they might have in addition to those on the data sheet. Operate normally and then disrupt the functioning of the plane on reception of a specific signal? The possibilities for sabotage are endless.

  4. “we can all agree that dangerous things designed to destroy stuff and kill people should not have defective electrics, right?”
    wrong, I salute to those who tampered killing machine

    1. Interesting thought. The problem is that the P-8 is a patrol aircraft. It is used for SAR, recon, and the only thing it is used to attack are submarines and warships. Basicly it is’s job is to kill the killers.
      Of course add in the fact that the people doing this are building their own weapons.

      1. @Therian
        War doesnt happen unless provoked? Then we must never have war, as someone must always start it whether it be retaliation or aggression. Take some time to look over history. Not stating one way or the other on sides, but just about facts.

      2. @therian

        Ignoring momentarily that your statement is idiotic, let’s examine what it would take to “stop giving them reasons.”

        Reasons one could have for going to war:
        They attacked us first
        They might attack us first
        They are too powerful to be trusted
        They are too weak to defend themselves against us
        They have something we want(land, wealth, slave labor)
        They have absolutely nothing and are a worthless waste of space, so we should put them out of their misery
        We don’t like them
        We don’t have any convincing reasons NOT to attack them

        And that’s not even a remotely comprehensive list. As you can see, prevention of several items on the list is mutually exclusive, and the last one effectively eliminates the possibility of not having a reason to attack.

        The best way to avoid being attacked is to give a very good reason not to.

        “If you do, we will turn you into a radioactive glass desert” is among the best reasons not to attack someone.

      3. @Therian is being naive. Exactly what counts as bringing something upon one’s self is rather nebulous. Any country with a sufficiently large economy by definition can’t help but irk enough people that unpleasant events will occur. For these situations, armed forces are at least in part maintained.

      4. @Therian:

        Look at WWII, the USA tried to stay out of it after what happened in WWI, but then Japan decided to attack Pearl harbor.
        since Japan was in an entangling alliance with Germany, Hitler also declared war on the US. So instead of only defending against the Japanese, we had to also fight off German forces.

        Back to the serious discussion about the counterfeit chips, I actually am doing research on the matter and it is a serious attack vector.

      5. seriously research history (be careful not to confuse it with propaganda) and you will be shock to find that there was no single war that US did not provoke, even revolutionary war was provoked. USA behave as uncontrollable spoiled bully

      6. @therian Apparently not, just like they didn’t “thought” you not to rely solely upon spellcheck.

        I actually tried to pay attention to history and even (shocking!) read outside of scholarly environments, and I’m still missing what you’re talking about. Either way, you are horribly naive. It would be a wonderful utopia if simply not aggressing was enough to prevent wars or violence. Unfortunately, it’s just that – a utopia.

      7. @therian
        OK, let’s just say that hypothetically, we believe you, the United States realize that everything bad that’s ever happened in the world is our fault, we dismantle all of our military, and we start exporting 100% of our goods to everybody(because apparently, not exporting to someone who is openly hostile is considered “provoking attack.”)

        Now let’s say you’re wrong.(which, by the way, history says you are)

        Well, now we’re screwed. Someone has decided to attack us for no fault of our own, and because we took your infinite wisdom and disarmed ourselves(and apparently it’s illegal to kill anything), we can’t fight back at all.

        So now your philosophy has demolished the United States and had it taken over by some fascist regime, and millions of innocents have been murdered. Thanks a lot.

        Though given your grasp of English makes you sound like a member of the KGB, that’s probably exactly what you wanted.

      8. “So now your philosophy has demolished the United States and had it taken over by some fascist regime, and millions of innocents have been murdered. Thanks a lot.”
        lol, they put trackers on people cars without cort order, they put people in prisons for vidiotaping cops, they kill people with drones without any proof and you still talk like US was not taken over by some regime

    2. so when the chinese take over our computers and missiles(” but counterfeits with extra hidden (backdoor) functionality as well. ;-(“)
      you will be with them basically taking over the USA because were to lazy to build our own stuff.

      1. Not too lazy, but too cheap. Sorry, characterizing the US workforce as lazy is a button of mine that can be pushed. Although I do admit that, when that workforce started to being Wall Street speculators with their personal retirement savings, they started being a part of the problem, that sent jobs out of the US.

        1. See my comment a few posts above directed at you (reply didn’t work)

          Just a single example. then there were things like the sinking of the RMS Lusitania during WWI, which led to the eventual USA involvement (Germany killing 1,100 civilians on a passenger cruiser that was not in a war zone would not go unnoticed).

      1. You are an imbecile because you apparently have deemed it favorable for a cruise missile to take a wrong turn due to defective electronics and smash into a civilian office building instead of a terrorist bunker.

        You’re an imbecile because you believe that nobody will want to hurt you if you don’t actively give them a reason.

      2. @Eirinn:
        “War cannot be avoided; it can only be postponed to the other’s advantage.”
        -Niccolo Machiavelli

        A quick look at human history will reveal that war was not invented by Americans. We didn’t even perfect it. Humans in general have always been at war, and we always will be. The only thing that can be done about it is to train skilled diplomats, and then back them up with the biggest sticks you can build.

      3. @therian
        I suggest that you step away from the computer and read some history. Look up the history of Poland, Norway, and Belgium for starters. Yes people attack without reason good reason. Some times the reason is simply “because we want your stuff”.
        Since the P8 is also used for search and rescue and to monitor resources like fisheries it is really a lot less of weapon than a tool. But then I guess you think it would be good for some poor ship’s crew to die as well as the crew of the P8 to die when it is sent out in a winter storm to find a ship in trouble and the anti-icing system fails.
        Good for you.

      4. I understand that wars was part of human history, but slavery and racism was part of our history too, we overcome those (at least we try) now it time to grow up more and start value life. After all we already created life from scrap 7 years ago, it sad to have technology of gods but bronze age value of life, we need to overcome barbarians in us

      5. I also understand that I was made in stars, Im a star dust and exist from singularity to singularity but was lucky to get single tiny window of conscience, so small almost nonexistent comparing to my whole history which start with time itself. Maybe now you understand why Im so against robbing this miracle called life

    3. Then I guess you’re all in favor of traffic lights being made with the same bunk material. Bravo.

      Please dont troll the hell out of this thread, too, therian. I’d really love to see some on-topic discussion.

      Seriously, I’m asking nicely.

  5. Not just counterfeit with missing functionality, but counterfeits with extra hidden (backdoor) functionality as well. ;-(

    There are reports of HARDWARE viruses detected by hardware analysis, in CPU chips from Chinese fabs, such that the virus CANNOT be detected by software running on the CPU.

    These would test normal until the virus is triggered. You need to examine them at the transistor interconnect level to verify that they can be trusted.

      1. Bingo! And here:

        “Last year, the U.S. Navy bought 59,000 microchips for use in everything from missiles to transponders and all of them turned out to be counterfeits from China.

        Wired reports the chips weren’t only low-quality fakes, they had been made with a “back-door” and could have been remotely shut down at any time.

        If left undiscovered the result could have rendered useless U.S. missiles and killed the signal from aircraft that tells everyone whether it’s friend or foe.”

      2. The ‘business insider’ article links to a wired article:

        The chips turned out to be counterfeits from China, but it could have been even worse. Instead of crappy Chinese fakes being put into Navy weapons systems, the chips could have been hacked, able to shut off a missile in the event of war or lie around just waiting to malfunction.

        emphasis mine. could have been .. this was pure speculation, and from what i can tell, it didn’t actually happen.

  6. The USA has privatized, and out sourced it’s defense. I have to wonder if Eisenhower really could have imagine how bad it could get if his country didn’t heed his warning? No one should really be surprise; laissez faire capitalism is the unofficial faith, and the God almighty dollar the unofficial deity. Using quality off the shelf components could be a viable way to reduce defense costs, if painstaking steps are taken to insure the quality, and if there are harsh consequences for those who knowingly undermine the quality in any matter or way.[sigh]

    1. Outsourcing of our defense is not the relevant issue. The problem is that the goal of our government has shifted from acting of, by and for the (human) people and instead acting on behalf of Corporations. Corporations only have one drive and one responsibility; to maximize profits for their shareholders. Now the funny thing is, they are nothing more than a liability shield for their owners, who are very human. That group reaps the benefit of selling out our Nation and since they have purchased Congress, get labeled as, ‘Patriots’.

    2. Capitalism does not exist as laissez faire or any other format.

      There are 9 federal cabinet departments and over 100 federal agencies and commissions that control the economy. Government spending is more than 40% of national income. Interest rates are artificially manipulated by a secretive, private bank with a monopoly on fiat money. That is not Capitalism.

      1. Then again I never said, laissez faire capitalism actually exists in the USA did, I? Laissez faire capitalism exist in the USA, any more than a free market exists in the USA. Both terms are used by the elite in both business, and government to manipulate the sentiment of the public to get enough of the public to act against the interest of the general public. To the Federal agencies add the State agencies. While they are times when those agencies do act in the interest of the general public, but they more often protect those already in business from additional competition. Not conspiracy theory on my part, but I have seen it in action many times, since I became an adult responsible for my own well being.

  7. What seems ridiculous to me is that we are outsourcing production of critical parts for DEFENSE systems to potential enemies. It seems to me that Congress should pass a law and provide funding for a program that requires ALL critical defense parts to be manufactured in the US by US companies. As others have said, the potential for mischief is just too great, and the Chinese don’t have the most stellar track record when it comes to this kind of stuff. Frankly I would be suprised if they have NOT managed to insert backdoors/kill switches into chips manufactured for use in US weapons systems.

  8. Why single out China? I would have thought that Mil-Spec components were already under much tighter scrutiny and were subject to random spot-tests, traceable supply chains and other such measures.

    While China could surely improve their enforcement against these things, I don’t think the issue at its core has anything to do with China or globalization. The military should be more diligent and their response should be to evaluate their procurement and testing policies.

    1. Mil-Spec has mostly gone away. The big push is COTS (Common Of The Shelf). COTS parts are mostly only screened to make sure they can make the environmental specs of the system. Mil-Spec was built to specific standards right off the bat. COTS has taken over since it is far cheaper to use screened commercial parts and they are not locked into a design document that only changes one every 5-10 years.

    1. Long ago the US military also had to sue philips for supplying sub-par defective electronic components, and they won, so it’s not just the chinese.
      And not even all foreigners, I bet that if they bought exclusively in the US some idiot would also try to make money by giving them sub-par parts.

  9. This story is retarded. Its not about counterfeiting anything (parts are sold as what they are), its about cheap used parts (no, you CANT wear out an IC or a resistor) vs expensive “certified” ones from companies that are lobbying for more military spending.

    They have examples showing Xilinx FPGAs. Do you really think someone in China designed 100% compatible FPGA chips and is branding them as Xilinx? Of course no, they are just recycled/surplus 100% working parts.

    Nothing wrong with recycling.

    This whole report/congressional committee is about some companies crying nobody is overpaying x5000 for their “military spec certified” resistors. and you are swallowed it like a $3 lady.

      1. @FtoRama That’s a different mix-up. The one mentioned above actually had no circuits at all, where the one you linked had a different, but functional circuit inside, which is far more understandable. Think of a box of nonprinted chips getting swapped or something.

      1. Yes, each ESD incident (usually unnoticed by most handlers/users) degrades pathways in the silicon, either by erosion or dendritic growth. If not an ESD incident, then an unclamped spike or undervoltage will degrade the components. Throw in environmental extremes esp. temperature and humidity and time will kill silicon, electrolytes, solder and copper.

    1. Why would they need to go to the trouble of designing? Xilinx already did the design; counterfeits could be things either intentionally made “after hours” on the same production line without much quality testing, or simply pulled from the rejects pile.

  10. It may be an Urban Legend, but back in the days when the United States actually manufactured technology, computers sold to the now defunct “Warsaw Pact” had hardware back doors that could perform “dirty tricks” in case of war. The Chinese have a history of copying our innovations and through currency manipulation along with slave and prisoner labor undercut US prices to the point that the US ceased manufacturing and lost the ability to manufacture critical components. Therefore, despite the cost, the US must reinvigorate its ability to manufacture these components because the probable consequences are catastrophic. China is digging thousands of kilometers of tunnels at great expense. Why? These tunnels and the knowledge that they have a potential capability to disable the defenses of the US may have a decisive impact on a decision to back up their recent aggressive words with preemptive actions. The United States can not afford the savings of using dubious components. I hope it is not too late. BTW, to “salute to those who tampered killing machine” only makes sense when all killing machines are affected, it is rather dangerous when it is only the machines of one of the sides.

  11. Obviously the reseller (who must be an American by dealing with the military) has tons of dignity by trying to make money off low cost recycled parts. There has to be a market for something to be sold you know.

  12. Yes, but think of all the money someone saved, and isn’t that the important thing here.

    You can’t get uber rich if you continue to waste time thinking about safety and security.

  13. Smells like pro-ACTA stuff in here. Fake / counterfeit chips suck, expecially in power electronics and safety related products but please check who is publishing an article, at what time and with which possible intent.

  14. Typical government, ha. It’s easy not to care about the quality of your product when there is no profit/loss mechanism at work ie the free market. The reputation and consistency of a firm would have guided the buyers to it in a normal situation.

    This is not China’s fault. This is the governments fault. This is what happens when things become non private.

    1. I suspect @Tenbob is a young libertarian whose doctrine hasn’t yet been subject to field testing.

      National defense is an example of an economic good, much like a highway, a barber shop, or Taco Bell burrito. The level of economic benefit from a given level of national defense is usually difficult to accurately measure, and thus @Tenbob assumes that the public “service vendor” (eg. the US DoD) has no incentive to get value for its money.

      However, as @Tenbob may be aware, the service vendor has been providing a lot of service as of late, and it suffers extreme consequences if its capital equipment isn’t up to snuff. These consequences are widely felt and discussed, and thus this vendor is motivated more than most to avoid buying crap.

  15. “we can all agree that dangerous things designed to destroy stuff and kill people should not have defective electrics, right?”

    i’d say : we can all agree that dangerous things designed to destroy stuff and kill people should HAVE defective electrics!

    (or not be designed at all!)


    1. So as I said above, you would prefer that a cruise missile take wrong turn en route to its target and instead smash into an office building filled with a thousand civilians than a bunker filled with a hundred terrorists?

      You would prefer that a GPS tracking system incorrectly report its location as being under a public Elementary school instead of under an active military base?

  16. My company was looking for some FPGA’s a while back, we needed 10 of them, and each FPGA cost 2,000$ each. For some reason we couldn’t purchase direct from the manufacturer, so we had to go through a “parts broker” and the biggest problem with this was that the only place we could buy these FPGA was China. What did we find in China? Counterfits! Dozens of counterfits and warnings from our finance department. Eventually we were able to find the real thing after 6 weeks of searching.
    Very few manufacturers make their components in the USA, however you are typically safe when you order from the manufacturer. I say typically because we have also had instances where shipments have been sent to us where boxes have been tampered with and the product has been replaced with a different product.

  17. The biggest issue here is; Why the F**K are we buying parts for war devices from other countries AT ALL?!?!? The other countries have proven unreliable for centuries, but yet we decide to trust them when it really counts?!?!?

    This country should develop it’s own parts and electronics, even if it costs more in the end, but at least we will know that those parts are up to par.


    Several cases have been uncovered in which Internet-capable devices have had Chinese chips in them which also provided a back door into the networks the devices were supposed to protect. The devices were attached not only to industrial and commercial networks but also to networks that were defined as part of the nation’s “critical infrastructure.”

    “A leaked MI5 document said undercover intelligence officers from the People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of Public Security approached U.K. businessmen at trade fairs and exhibitions with the offers of cameras and memory sticks. But the “gifts” were found to contain back doors that provide the Chinese with remote access to the business computers.”

  19. China Military Science electronic strategy:

    “Chinese strategies rely on electrons in unanticipated ways to fulfill stratagems such as “kill with a borrowed sword” or “exhaust the enemy at the gate and attack him at your ease.””

    “Informationized arms… together with information systems, sound, light, electronics, magnetism, heat and so on, turn into a carrier of strategies.”

    “Direct commanders’ thinking and force them to make errors by attacking cognitive and belief systems.”

    “Hide reality by creating a fictitious reality.”

    “Mislead the enemy by pretending to follow his wishes.”

    “Release viruses to contaminate information flows.”

    *** Is this a declaration of cyberwar?

  20. And don’t forget all the counterfeit drugs flooding the World from China. Truly Evil. I live in Indonesia. Here, if you take blood pressure medicine or even have to go in for chemotherapy, there’s a real chance your medication will be useless, or worse – it will harm you. The Government does the best they can to stop this. But the fake drugs are too pervasive.

  21. Greed is the essence of capitalism. It will be its doom in the end.

    Capitalist doesn’t give a damn about a “fellow American”. All he cares about is money.

    So nothing new to see here. Free market will regulate everything. Just like it did in 1929.

  22. HOLY CRAP!! counterfeit merchandise from CHINA of all places.
    just when you think you know a country.

    we have really got to stop sending everything to china, perhaps bring back tariffs, its cheaper to make parts in china than the US so companies do, its a classic tragedy of the commons. put the tariffs such that small scale import and sale will be fine but large scale will be more expensive than doing in the country.

    now this WILL of course increase the cost of just about everything, but it would also increase the jobs available in the states i suspect the two would balance out and on the larger scale it would take some power away from china who’s interests are not necessarily our interests.

  23. Politics aside, I think this idea of a “Hardware Virus” is really cool. Far from being a knock-off, designing a chip that imitates the functionality and timing characteristics of another one exactly, except for a certain back door scenario, sounds like it would be pretty tricky to pull off.

  24. I recall several articles from times past bragging that we had developed products with components, supposedly chips, which we could remotely command to fail or alter their function in other ways. There was a wave of news articles on the subject and it was many years ago. I cannot speak to the accuracy or truth to it. If it was true, the shoe could be on the other foot now.

    1. @biomed: I remember reading those reports too. A modern variation is that Stuxnet variants have been detected in the wild modified to attack American infrastructure. The shoe does end up on the other foot when we send our discarded shoes to people who have no shoes… ;-)

      P.S. Stuxnet is a hardware-destructive worm claimed to have come from the US military, designed to damage (with some success) Iran’s uranium refinement capacity. It has now come back to haunt the supposed creators of it…

      1. And DEFCON 19 laughed at Stuxnet being what the media hype determined it to be. I think 18 did as well. That being said, my question follows at what is now the end of the page.

      2. I guess something to ponder is this: If this is a collaborated effort of the Chinese to have a “Just in case these are used against us” purpose, to a more innocent “Let’s sell these as new”, yet to a MORE benevolent “Oops, these are new, right?” mistake…

        …what are the Chinese using in THEIR military electronics?

        I know a friend that worked in China for a fair amount of time, he said lying in business is almost a sport, if not a hobby. They lie about everything, then laugh about it when they get caught.

        “Did you support this building slab with 6-bag mix concrete and 22mm rebar every 0.5 meters?”

        “Oh, yes, yes sir we did.”

        “I’ve xrayed the concrete because I saw it chipping. It’s 4-bag mix and there isnt one rebar in the entire slab. You realize this building can collapse under its own weight?”

        “Oh, haha! You found us out! Haha! So sorry! We’ll do it right”

        China is a mix of volatility, incompetence, and competence. Take your pick.

  25. The us government really needs to start making all of the components securely here. It would save them the risk of counterfeit components and it would definitively help the economy here.

    1. I agree, but the cost of a proper clean room and everything else that goes along with it might make it impossible in this economy, at least for the private sector.

      Trying not to get political here, but after all that stimulus money evaporated, you think we’d have solved this issue FOREVER with what Solyndra (Oops, almost said Solaria) was given. This would have been an extreme booster for the President, something I dont think he’s capable of getting by himself. How can a President NOT do this? Its a PERFECT PR campaign, even if its one room putting out a handful of chips a day.

  26. “…often made from 1980s and 1990s-vintage junk computer parts that are sanded down and remarked…”

    Sorry to hear that computers of the 80’s and 90’s were junk. Looks like they retired the Space Shuttle just in time (RIP Challenger, Columbia).

    I’m not entirely convinced that the surface finish of the packaging affects the function of the parts in question.
    Look on the bright side, you’re getting a fully burned in and proven part at a nice discount!

  27. The US military is far to trustworthy..Most of their contractors are german, chinese, and russian, and they wonder how organized crime and foreign intelligence archives all their information..

  28. the article is not about back door whatever or political whatever.
    it was about shoddy parts WITH NO FREAKING LABEL!!! that should have never made it past unpacking/inspection let alone being put in an actual plane. or even failing once _IN_ one ?!?!?!!?! …

    so much for “MILITARY-GRADE” lol

    GASP: flying-TOYOTAs :P

    1. Actually, if you do the research on the fake chips that have been found in large industrial orders, most of them DO have legitimate appearing fake labels complete with counterfeit logos. Here are some counterfeit transistors with faked labels:

      And here is a report of “sprinkling” — mixing enough bad chips in with good ones to miss statistical sample testing, but to increase profit and/or cause intentional sabotage:

      For entrepreneurial bad guys, there are companies listing products such as fake flash chips with the “logo of your choice” printed on it. You can send them custom artwork, or choose from a number of popular choices such as Kingston, Memorex, SanDisk, and others commonly found on eBay. I like the 512GB fake flash sticks at for real cheap. A data warehouse in a suitcase, yeah that’s the ticket! (or not…)

      I have even purchased “high capacity” 3000 mAh rechargeable batteries on eBay that turned out to be a hollow shell with a tiny button cell inside to appear good on a quick battery test.

      When travelling overseas last year, I went through MANY “major name brand premium” camera batteries of various reputable brands, purchased at many different store, most of which were only good for four or five photos. No doubt fakes. Oh yeah, all the labels said made in other countries, but they said they were “printed in China”… ;-(

    2. Printing is the easy part.

      I’m guessing that the parts did have markings, and that they were obscured to avoid lawsuits.

      My experience was buying counterfeit power MOSFETs, shipped from China. They had exactly the markings shown on the datasheet. The only problem is that we kept blowing up power sections, which often took out the gate driver and sometimes even the controller. After we got a batch of genuine parts we could tell them apart by slight differences in the surface texture and font, but the external difference was so subtle you would never spot it.

      The inexperienced might ask why we bought from a Chinese supplier. Since most devices are built in China, it’s common that the big US distributors don’t have stock, will only sell a whole reel, or price small quantities to make money even if the rest of the reel doesn’t sell. Going to a smaller supplier with a lower price sometimes means that you are drop-shipped parts from overseas.

      1. If you do a little research (with you favorite search engine) you will find a Whole New Industry of companies that do inspection, testing, x-ray, burn-in, and other means of electronic component counterfeit detection and supply-chain reliability verification.

        Unfortunately, that adds more cost to the products that contain tested components, making it more likely that will will buy cheap Chinese clones for these of these more expensive products.

        There are a bunch of tablet computers and cellphones with FAKE serial numbers coming from the SAME Chinese factories that make the REAL part for American companies, such as Apple, Samsung, and Amazon. Although identical hardware, good luck getting warranty service on these “factory surplus” items, or even being able to register them (to get free 3G internet, in the case of the Kindle).

        So, counterfeiting includes manufacturing more product than the client ordered, giving them fake serial numbers, and selling them outside the normal retail channel (undercutting the client).

        Also, factory reject IC chips are for sale by the pound in China, and these get repackaged into fakes and counterfeits too. These get salted into *real* product batches to help escape detection.

        The world is being flooded with fake electronics, fake drugs, and fake information, mostly from China (as part of their official military policy), but some from India as well…

  29. this is true. the dod contractor i work for has received counterfeit fpgas before through a vendor. it cost the company 100s of 1000s of dollars just to find the problem, plus an expensive team of people with xray skillz to find 1/10th of the gates would randomly shit the bed.

    i blame the amount of middle men involved in the dod nowadays. i can totally see how it happened and could happen elsewhere.

  30. What I don’t understand is:

    The Nato approved bike (MT 350) has a Harley engine in it, rather than the more reliable and easier to repair Rotax engine.

    the reason for this is American policy interests, specifically the sentiment “don’t rely for tactical purposes on something that you can’t build yourselves” -or a better way of putting it, don’t use Italian engines in the bikes because you don’t own the designs, can’t manufacture the parts and have to rely on an at best politcally unstable country which is your ally now.
    (before berlesconi Italy used to change it’s political direction every couple of years, and he’s going again now, plus the country is economically fucked.)

    so it makes sense, make the tools of war from parts that you actually have the tooling for.

    Rememeber that the NATO bike is the bike agree’d to be used by all NATO countries, e.g. you (America) didn’t want to rely on your allies (Italy), yet you’re now more than happy to buy chips from China. -who you wouldn’t exactly call an ally.

    when it comes to sweets and cars, roadsigns, shop tools etc I don’t agree with protectionalism at all. -get those made in places where it’s cheap, then import and sell.

    When it comes to “defence of the realm” everything that you use should be manufacturable by you.

    1. the Rotrax and harley engines are garbage compared to most honda engines. the engine in the dauville is a design from the 70’s that can easily go 300,000 miles without a single problem. This has been proved over and over and over for the past 30 years on that engine.

      Plus, who gives a rats arse about owning the patents. Just make them yourselves and violate that patent in the event of war.

      1. you’ve proved my point admirably.

        American interest was key.

        Hence they chose the crappest engine, even when an allied nation had a better design, (and there was no way that they would be using japanese made engines in NATO bikes). for the same reason. even though the japanese engine was leagues better in design and reliability.

        if you violate patents then you lose an awful lot of moral high ground.

        and the idea that you should just violate patents in times of war is stupid. aside from the fact that everyone is constantly at war (I believe only 1 year of peace since the second world war)
        if you gear up for war (I mean someone attacks you war) after it’s started and thus lose the war due to insufficient equipment.

  31. Dont take this story as, oh, the chinese are evil plotting b*stards, if the tables turned and for sone crazy reason the US was commisioned to make Chinese military electronics, you know full well you’d install a remote off switch too!

  32. With all the hacking attacks on businesses and Universities coming from China, an unofficial memo went round UK universities saying not to use the university computer equipment for sensitive work and not to leave unattended personal equipment connected to the network.

  33. Sickening…for all the billions they waste on ways to kill people for no reason, you would at least hope that they would source parts from the country that is paying for it all…but no…let’s buy parts from China!

  34. Dear idiots at the pentagon and congress.

    If you dont pass a law that states all military electronics MUST be manufacturered in the USA, you deserve what you get.

    This single move would revitalize the Electronics industry stateside. But no the morons in congress, and the idiots at the pentagon would never do that..

    1. Exactly. For the average hacker who buys from Digikey, this is a non-issue. For people who have to worry about this for work, this had better not be the first time they’ve heard about it. My last job we used to buy 90% of our components from Digikey and I can think of only a handful of times the parts were wrong and usually it was blatantly obvious like a six pin package showed up in a sixty-four pin package or a tantalum capacitor that looked suspiciously like a diode… The only incident even remotely close to counterfeit was a MOSFET driver that turned out to be an LED driver chip, though it was marked correctly so it was probably a case of someone just grabbing the wrong reel at the warehouse.

      On the whole, an interesting topic, but unless you are Jeri, you’re not going to be making your own counterfeit stuff in your basement and you’re very unlikely to find any on the hobby level if you buy from reputable sources. The old “buyer beware” thing. Don’t buy a $20 iPad and expect it to work…

      1. Jeri, as in Jeri Ellsworth? In the event that is so I’m fairly certain she has never created “counterfeit” electronic components. I believe she has made functioning active solid state devices in a home shop, but that’s hardly counterfeiting.

  35. Wake up guys! It’s China. one of your “enemies”. Are you sure if you were in their shoes you wouldn’t do something alike as a precaution should your enemy buy military electronic stuff they could use against you one day?

    Want to be 100% safe? Stop outsourcing then, which incidentally also creates labor and helps the economy.

  36. I don’t get the paranoia on Chinese manufacturing. When you buy parts from authorized resellers you will definately get the right device.
    I once had to troubleshoot a design (designed by us, manufactured by customer) with faulty LT converters, markings were all OK, but somehow devices failed in the field. LT volunteered to help us by decapping the faulty devices for free, on condition that we could tell who the authorized reseller was. The customer wouldn’t tell. The die was NOT an LT part! Customer purchased from authorized reseller -> Problem solved!
    We’ve also seen a broker offering parts with a week/year code after the product was discontinued….
    Last year the component market was stressed, that has been a good time for brokers.

    1. it’s not paranoia, if the guarentee of the supply line.

      if all the tech to make your military tech comes from a nation then that nation controls your military tech

      I’m not talking back doors here, I’m saying that IF America goes into war in say, north Korea, or Iran, or any of those other nations that China is sympathetic to, then it might become more difficult to buy parts for arms from a country that is an ally of your enemy.

      worse, if there were ever a war WITH China, then your entier supply line drys up overnight.

      This is why you need the designs and capability to manufacture all parts to weapons that you want to use, (or have those parts in nations that are guarenteed friendly, (for example America is unlikely to ever be at war with Canada.)

      1. lol ill doubt chinese business men let go of the opportunity to sell crap to ameria even it the two countries are at war. same would go other way around

        its not the country who sells stuff but companies

  37. There WAS a law that all military stuff had to be produced in the USA.

    But then that meant Americans having real jobs and earning real paychecks. The goal has been to turn America into Amerika and de-industrialize it.

    So they changed the rules.
    You reap what you sow, but remember, it’s Amerika that will suffer from this, and maybe this will help us get America back.

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