It's a problem for U.S. retailers when Communist China makes fake designer handbags and illegal copies of our music CDs, but it's a much bigger problem when the fakes are chips installed in our military weapons. The American people are starting to discover that counterfeit computer components bought from the Chinese are used in our war planes, ships, and communication networks.
These tiny electronic circuits used in computers can cause breakdowns or malfunctions. Bloomberg Businessweek reported that a confidential Pentagon program issued an alert as long ago as 2005 that fake microchips were causing military equipment malfunctions.
Other shipments were discovered to be counterfeit in time to be cancelled. Four counterfeit chips were discovered in the flight computer of one of our F-15 fighter jets at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.
While it is difficult to determine if fake chips caused particular plane or helicopter crashes, we know that we are having field failures in almost every weapon system. Informed military observers believe that at least 15 percent of the spare and replacement chips the Pentagon buys are counterfeits.