Published in News

US military bought counterfeit chips

by on08 November 2011

What could possibly go wrong?

The US military thought it was a good idea to buy its chips for major Pentagon weapon systems from a Florida drag racing entrepreneur with a history of amphetamine use.

For four years Shannon A. Wren’s nine-employee company brokered the sale of more than $15.8 million in computer parts to government customers and others from a small office in a central Florida business park. According to many items were labeled as “military-capable” and were shoved under the bonnet of advanced fighters, radar systems, and missiles.

However all the parts were made from a single factory in China, using inferior and recycled materials and falsely labelled as being made by Intel, Texas Instruments, and Motorola. Some of them are so dodgy that they pose the risk of exploding or catching fire.

According to a U.S. District Court filing the Naval Air Systems Command has warned that any failures had the potential to ground military aircraft or prompt mistaken shoot-downs of friendly planes. Wren’s company, VisionTech has been shut down, but it appears that the Defense Department has largely failed to impose significant controls on the origin and quality of the electronics it buys.

Wren died in May at the age of 42, before he had to face trial on federal charges. But it is starting to look like there is a mess as the US military looks to find how many dodgy chips are in their military machines.

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