Counterfeit investigations are at an all-time high.
The Defense Criminal Investigative Service considers counterfeit investigations one of its highest priorities. In 2016, the DCIS made 5 arrests, 17 charges and 11 convictions. One-tenth of their 1,500 active investigations are related to counterfeit, defective, or substandard products. And they’re widening their search.
Why are counterfeit parts rising to the top of DCIS’s priority list?
It’s expensive. In 2011, the Missile Defense Agency testified that the cost to replace suspect counterfeit memory devices in just one missile system, was $2.7 million.
It’s dangerous. Counterfeit parts can cost more than money. In the defense and aviation sectors, it can cost lives. “Almost anything is at risk of being counterfeited, including microelectronics used in fighter jets and missile guidance systems, fasteners used in aircraft, and materials used in engine mounts,” according to a DoD IG report on its investigative plans. These are the very systems that have the potential to put lives in danger and fiscal constraints only magnify this threat, as we work to sustain legacy systems which likely contain obsolete parts.
It’s getting more difficult to detect. In recent years, a re-mark could be easily removed with an acetone wipe. These days, physical testing is required to detect a part’s authenticity. Counterfeit detection labs, like this one at CTG Headquarters, are needed to perform the necessary tests to deem a part genuine and non-counterfeit.
It’s going to take an army.
Counterfeit mitigation efforts range from improving legislation and industry standards, to careful reporting, authentication and testing. It’s up to every tier of the supply chain, top to bottom, to make a responsible impact by taking an active role in mitigating counterfeit parts.
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