Exclusive: Chinese raw materials also found on U.S. B-1 bomber, F-16 jets

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After discovering China-made components in the F-35 fighter jet, a Pentagon investigation has uncovered Chinese materials in other major U.S. weaponry, including Boeing Co’s B-1B bomber and certain Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighters, the U.S. Defense Department said.

Titanium mined in China may also have been used to build part of a new Standard Missile-3 IIA being developed jointly by Raytheon Co and Japan, said a senior U.S. defense official, who said the incidents raised fresh concerns about lax controls by U.S. contractors.

U.S. law bans weapons makers from using raw materials from China and a number of other countries, amid concerns that reliance on foreign suppliers could leave the U.S. military vulnerable in some future conflict.

The Pentagon investigated the incidents in 2012 and 2013, and granted the waivers after concluding the non-compliant materials posed no risk, Defense Department spokeswoman Maureen Schumann told Reuters.

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s chief arms buyer, issued five such waivers after a change in U.S. law in 2009 expanded the restrictions on specialty metals to include high-performance magnets, Schumann said. The change affected a radar system built by Northrop Grumman Corp for the F-35, which uses a number of such magnets.

China is the largest supplier of specialty metals and materials needed to build magnets that work even at very high temperatures, although congressional aides say progress has been made on developing alternate sources in the United States.

A separate issue involving thermal sensors built for the F-35 by a Chinese subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc did not require a formal waiver because it involved a unit of a U.S. company, the official said. Honeywell now builds that part in Michigan.

‘JUST SLOPPINESS’

Defense officials say the incidents underscore the need for greater vigilance by arms makers about their supply chain to ensure they comply with U.S. laws.

“It’s really just sloppiness, frankly, when this happens,” said the defense official. “It’s not enough to say, ‘I’m pretty sure it didn’t come from China.’ That doesn’t work for us. We’re looking for documents.”

Full article: Exclusive: Chinese raw materials also found on U.S. B-1 bomber, F-16 jets (Yahoo!)

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