One million counterfeit Chinese electronic parts used in US military, report finds

Some one million counterfeit electronic parts from China were in use in U.S. military aircraft, risking national security and the safety of U.S. soldiers, a Senate committee report has found.

The Senate Committee on Armed Services report, released Monday, revealed that it had uncovered 1,800 cases of fake parts -- including Special Operations helicopters -- used by the military.

"Our report outlines how this flood of counterfeit parts, overwhelmingly from China, threatens national security," committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said.

The report noted that Beijing was openly allowing counterfeiting operations in the country, and attempts by committee officials to get visas to travel to China as part of the year-long investigation had been unsuccessful.

The committee's ranking member Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the prevalence of counterfeit electronic parts in U.S. military systems made the country vulnerable and posed a risk to "our security and the lives of the men and women who protect it."

"The Department of Defense and its contractors must attack this problem more aggressively, particularly since counterfeiters are becoming better at shielding their dangerous fakes from detection," he said.

While the senators put the blame squarely on China, the report said U.S. authorities and contract companies contributed to the vulnerabilities to the defense supply chain by not detecting the fakes, or routinely failing to report suspected counterfeiting to the military.

"The failure of a single electronic part can leave a soldier, sailor, airman or marine vulnerable at the worst possible time," the report said.

"Unfortunately, a flood of counterfeit electronic parts has made it a lot harder to prevent that from happening."