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U.S. Waived Laws To Keep F-35 On Track With China-made Parts 348

Posted by Soulskill
from the boondoggle-that-won't-die dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from Reuters: "The Pentagon repeatedly waived laws banning Chinese-built components on U.S. weapons in order to keep the $392 billion Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter program on track in 2012 and 2013, even as U.S. officials were voicing concern about China's espionage and military buildup. According to Pentagon documents reviewed by Reuters, chief U.S. arms buyer Frank Kendall allowed two F-35 suppliers, Northrop Grumman Corp and Honeywell International Inc, to use Chinese magnets for the new warplane's radar system, landing gears and other hardware. Without the waivers, both companies could have faced sanctions for violating federal law and the F-35 program could have faced further delays."
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U.S. Waived Laws To Keep F-35 On Track With China-made Parts

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  • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @11:44AM (#45865231)
    The US has numerous fabs and electronics manufacturing facilities. I suspect this was done to help alleviate the job slaughtering and cost inflation caused by economic uncertainty and the fiscal cliff, related to Congress's inability to pass a budget.

    The budget has become Congress's albatross, and has far reaching implications in the defense industry.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 04, 2014 @11:56AM (#45865305)

    During the height of the cold war, around the time of the Cuban missile crisis, the US built the SR-71, which was designed to spy on the Soviet Union, out of titanium supplied *by* the Soviet Union, which at the time had a near-monopoly on titanium.

  • Magnaquench (Score:5, Informative)

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:02PM (#45865339)

    Wasn't it a clever idea to let Magnaquench be sold to China? For those unfamiliar with it Magnaquench was one of, if not the, pioneer in rare earth magnets, and their use in various applications, including military. Here are links to articles about it in two websites that are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Anything that the Heritage Foundation and DailyKos agree on is definitely worth considering.

    http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/05/magnequench-cfius-and-chinas-thirst-for-us-defense-technology [heritage.org]

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/05/03/508203/-Magnaquench-160-Weapon-technology-with-a-bow-on-it [dailykos.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:04PM (#45865355)

    we cannot build electronics in the US anymore. we don't own the plants that produce the transistors, resistors, caps, diodes, etc. for the last 30 or more years, those have been made exclusively in asia (all over asia, not just china). I can't remember the last time I found a transistor or chip made on US soil.

    assembly, sure; but making the parts is all done overseas. we sold outselves out in that regard. and see the capacitor problem (badcaps.net) that we have had to live with the past 20 or so years. those parts are also in the MILITARY and other sensitive pipelines. the caps that blow up on your motherboard also exist in everything else we build, unless we pay a premium for japanese caps (the chinese ones are all known to be bad; no one I know builds with chinese knock-off capacitors anymore; but I bet those that want to save every dime do cheap-out and use those bad parts).

    I wish we would start a jobs program to bring electronics manufacturing back to the US. if nothing else, just for peace of mind, to be able to use those parts in critical situations and KNOW they are designed and built properly.

    Not true. Intel has a number of major semiconductor fabrication plants in the US. So have Micron, Freescale, Cypress, On, Texas Instruments and others.

  • by dreamchaser (49529) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:06PM (#45865357) Homepage Journal

    Oh really [wikipedia.org]? There are still fabrication plants in the US. Not too many, but they exist and can manufacture semiconductor components.

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:08PM (#45865381)

    The F-35 is already in production and has been for several years - its in a phase called Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) and the aircraft produced under is are indeed final production examples (barring any rework needed) rather than test aircraft.

    100 production standard aircraft have been produced to date.

  • by ArbitraryName (3391191) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @01:47PM (#45865865)

    we cannot build electronics in the US anymore. we don't own the plants that produce the transistors, resistors, caps, diodes, etc. for the last 30 or more years, those have been made exclusively in asia (all over asia, not just china).

    Completely false. To name just a handful.
    Transistors: Loads [slashdot.org]. Intel, Freescale, Micron, NXP, etc.
    Resistors: US Resistor [usresistor.com], Powerohm [powerohm.com]
    Capacitors: American Capacitor Corporation [americancapacitor.com] and AFM Micro [afmmicroelectronics.com]
    Diodes: Sensitron [sensitron.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 04, 2014 @02:12PM (#45866025)

    you don't have common parts (the non-semi conductors like caps and resistors) made here. its not economical and its not specialized, generally, so its NEVER done here other than for rare circumstances (some high end audio parts might be made here but on a very tiny production scale and not for common use).

    the wiki article is not the full truth. some higher end chips are made here but that's NOT what the issue is about. you can't build entire systems from US based parts anymore. it simply can't be done.

    Oh, really?

    I've read that a lot on slashdot... let's see...

    American sourced components (from the top of my head):

    capacitors (ceramic, tantalum), inductors:
    http://www.kemet.com
    (look for the defense/aerospace section)

    resistors
    http://www.micro-ohm.com

    discrete transistors:
    http://www.semi-tech-inc.com

    LED, Displays:
    http://wamcoinc.com

    IC's, microprocessors, basically the stuff from Natsemi and TI:
    www.ti.com
    (go to the space, avionics and defense section)

    I could go on... basically all microwave components are available as well.

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @04:11PM (#45866653) Homepage

    On December 19, 2013, Molycorp started up their rare earths separation plant. [miningweekly.com] It's in Mountain Pass, California. So now there's a US source.

    It's not that the US lacks rare earth metal resources. It's that, until recently, China was a cheaper supplier. Then the goverment of China tried to keep the price up and insisted that Chinese companies sell motors and other completed products, not raw materials. Some rare earth metal prices shot up by a factor of 20. So the Mountain Pass mine, closed in 2002, was cranked up again, this time with new equjpiment better pollution controls.

    Pollution controls for a rare earth mine are a big deal. "Rare earths" are present in low concentrations, which means that a mine generates a small amount of product and huge amounts of toxic sludge. The big rare earths mine in China has the world's largest sludge pond, and it leaks. [nytimes.com] This created an environmental disaster area for tens of kilometers around. Villages have had to be evacuated because of sludge pond leaks. The Mountain Pass, California mine is less than a mile from I-15 between Barstow and Las Vegas. The US EPA, California regulatory authorities, and the Sierra Club [desertreport.org] all had to be satisfied that this project wouldn't create a big mess. That was done.

    Now Molycorp complains that smuggling of rare earths out of China is pushing the price down, but they're digging them up, processing, and shipping them. Problem solved.

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