Report: Counterfeit microchips used in planes built in Marietta

by: Jim Strickland Updated:

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MARIETTA, Ga. - A report from the Senate Armed Services Committee details an account of counterfeit microchips discovered in the C-130J cargo plane built in Marietta. The report also contains criticism over how contractor Lockheed Martin handled the discovery.

The C-130J is a cargo workhorse for the Air Force, Marines and air borne units in more than a dozen countries, according to the Lockheed website.

Its cockpit contains a display monitor made by a Lockheed subcontractor. A Senate investigation said that subcontractor, L-3 Display Systems, alerted Lockheed that chips in 400 of the display units were failing at a rate triple the norm. The subcontractor admitted Lockheed likely got stuck with Chinese fakes.

"It's just got to pass the smell test," Dan Ellsworth of chip supplier World Micro in Roswell said. "Does it make good sense to buy parts when you know they're going into a government application, from an unknown Chinese supplier?"

World Micro was not involved in the Lockheed incident, and is lobbying for new standards to weed out unqualified military suppliers.

Investigators say Lockheed engineers took no action to repair any of the effected units and did not formally notify the Air Force.

"All of our experiences with Lockheed have been of the utmost integrity," said Ellsworth in defense of the defense contractor. "We feel they're out ahead and in front of this issue."

Lockheed sent Channel 2 a statement which reads in full:

“Lockheed Martin has been cooperating with the SASC’s broad investigation of counterfeit parts across the entire defense industry. The company fully supports the government’s goal of preventing the incorporation of counterfeit parts into the systems it procures, and Lockheed Martin works with its supply base to prevent such occurrences. For those few instances where Lockheed Martin has received systems from its suppliers containing suspect parts, the company worked with its government customers to ensure that flight safety and operational effectiveness were not compromised.”

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