A screenshot of the website, showing various parts from Western manufacturers

How Many Western ICs Are There In Russia’s Weapons?

Recently, the Ukrainian government has published a database of Western components being used in recently produced Russian armaments, and it’s a fascinating scroll. Just how much does Russia rely on Western manufacturers’ parts? It turns out, a surprising amount. For instance, if you are wondering which ICs are used to build Iran-produced Shahed drones, it seems that it’s a whole bunch of Texas Instruments parts, as well as some Maxim, Intel, and Xilinx ones. Many of the parts in the lists are MCUs and FPGAs, but it’s also surprising how many of the components are jelly bean parts with multiple suppliers.

There appear to be thousands of parts listings, compiled from a good few dozen pieces of equipment that volunteers appear to have taken apart and scrupulously documented – just take a look at the dropdowns at the top of the page. The Ukrainian government is advocating for parts restrictions to be implemented based upon this data – as we all remember, it’s way harder to produce hardware when you can’t buy crucial ICs.

Even for a regular hacker, this database is worth a scroll, if only to marvel at all the regular parts we wouldn’t quite associate with military use. Now, all that’s left is to see whether any of the specific chips pictured have been sold to washing machine manufacturers.

Let Slip The Chips Of War

We’re going to go out on a limb and predict that future history books will note that the decision to invade a sovereign nation straight after a worldwide pandemic wasn’t exactly the best timing. Turns out the global electronics shortage the pandemic helped to catalyze isn’t just affecting those of us with peaceful intentions, as the Russian war machine is having a few supply issues with the parts needed to build modern weapons and their associated control equipment.

As you might expect, many of these parts are electronic in nature, and in some cases they come from the same suppliers folks like us use daily. This article from POLITICO includes an embedded spreadsheet, broken down by urgency, complete with part numbers, manufacturers, and even the price Moscow expects to pay!

Chips from US-based firms such as Texas Instruments are particularly hard for the Kremlin to source.

So what parts are we talking about anyway? The cheapest chip on the top priority list is the Marvell ‘Alaska’ 88E1322 which is a dual Gigabit Ethernet PHY costing a mere $7.10 USD according to Moscow. The most expensive is the 10M04DCF256I7G, which is an Altera (now Intel) Max-10 series FPGA, at $1,101 USD (or 66,815 Rubles, for those keeping score).

But it’s not just chips that are troubling them, mil-spec D-sub connectors by Airborn are unobtainable, as are all classes of basic passive parts, resistors, diodes, discrete transistors. Capacitors are especially problematic (aren’t they always). A whole slew of Analog Devices chips, as well as many from Maxim, Micrel and others. Even tiny logic chips from Nexperia.

Of course, part of this is by design. Tightened sanctions prevent Russia from purchasing many of these parts directly, which is intended to make continued aggression as economically unpleasant as possible. But as the POLITICO article points out, it’s difficult to prevent┬ásome intermediaries from ‘helping out’ without the West knowing. After all, once a part hits the general market, it is next to impossible to guarantee where it will eventually get soldered down.

Thanks to [Kim Tae] for the tip!