Counterfeits can kill U.S. troops — so why isn’t Congress and DoD doing more to stop it?

Sometime in the not-to-distant future, a submarine will sink. An air defense missile will detonate far from its intended target. A Seahawk helicopter will intercept a suicide speed boat headed for an aircraft carrier only to see its infrared targeting system goes dark.

These chilling scenarios won’t be the result of human error or terrorist plots: They will directly result from a $2 counterfeit electronic tucked deep within a billion-dollar military technology.

It’s not a matter of if, but when. Just this month, the Department of Justice indicted a Massachusetts man for selling counterfeit semiconductors to Navy contractors. Some of the fake parts were intended for nuclear submarines.

The vast majority of counterfeits discovered in military equipment are semiconductors, the stamp-sized silicon wafers that act as the “brains” of nearly every type of modern electronic system. The U.S. military is a huge consumer of these tiny products; a single F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet is controlled by more than 2,500 semiconductors.

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