The Senate Armed Services Committee is zeroing in on China as the leading suspect in an effort to supply the U.S. military with counterfeit electronic parts.
Two senators, Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and the panel's top Republican, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), found around 1,800 instances of potential bogus parts winding up in military equipment. The senators said that 70 percent of the parts could be traced back to China. Investigators found many of the other fake parts came from Canada and Britain.
"These parts are just the tip of the iceberg," said Levin. "They wash the parts in dirty rivers and dry them in the streets."
Levin and McCain vowed that their panel would get to the bottom of the counterfeit parts ring. They start with a hearing Tuesday morning probing the causes and ways to put an end to it.
"If China does not act promptly, we should treat all electronic parts from China as suspect," said Levin.
Levin added that the Chinese government could easily the solve the problem if it really wanted to.
"The have great control over their land," Levin said. "They have a dictatorship."
Both senators expressed concern that sham parts could put U.S. troops at risk in the field. They said that some counterfeit parts are capable of passing inspections. But they question how long they will last and their reliability.
There's no indication that counterfeit parts have killed or injured U.S. forces.