The United States Air Force’s F-35, F-16, and B-1B jets all feature components that were made in China, in violation of a US policy against sourcing military materials from foreign suppliers, Reuters reports. Components of both the jets themselves and of their weapons systems were linked back to raw-material producers in China.
Reuters presented the revelations in an exclusive published yesterday, which linked two of the USAF’s main private-sector suppliers, Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp, to metal exporters in the PRC. Specifically, fancy “specialty metals and materials needed to build magnets,” of which China is the world’s largest supplier, were found in radar systems of B-1 bombers, F-16 fighter jets, and SM-3 IIA missiles.
The chief issue at stake here seems to be some shoddy paperwork and lazy auditing by US arms suppliers; an unnamed defence official told Reuters, “it’s really just sloppiness, frankly, when this happens. 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.”
The USAF plans to use any Chinese materials still in its supply, but has assured that “Chinese materials would not be used in any subsequent missiles,” and will be taken out of the supply chain.
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