Combating Counterfeit Semiconductors In The Military Supply Chain

The counterfeit market for semiconductors is real, sizable and growing, and the supply chain for military applications is more difficult to secure.


The reality: semiconductors are often counterfeits. In most current implementations, semiconductor authenticity is practically impossible to guarantee. The counterfeit market for semiconductors is real, sizable and growing:

• 2012: According to a report produced by the Senate Armed Services Committee, more than 1,000,000 suspect counterfeit electronic components have been used in 1,800 separate cases affecting U.S. military hardware, including airplanes, helicopters, missiles, and electronic warfare systems. The investigation further identified that 70% of all counterfeits come from China, and a majority of the remaining counterfeits could be traced back through the supply chain to China.
• 2017’s “Operation Wafers,” the European-wide Joint Customs Operation seized more than one million counterfeit semiconductor devices during a two-week operation.
• 2019: Industry Week sized the worldwide counterfeit semiconductor market at $75B.
• 2019: Havocscope reported more than $169B of counterfeit electronics in circulation.

Recent confirmed incidents of counterfeit parts found in commercial systems include defibrillators, airport landing lights, intravenous (IV) drip machines, and braking systems for high speed trains. While these examples demonstrate commercial systems clearly face threat from counterfeit parts, the supply chain for military applications is arguably even more difficult to secure.

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