US probe into fake aircraft parts casts shadow on India deals - Indian Express
US investigation that found suspect counterfeit electronic parts in military aircraft will have repercussions for India with two programmes that the Air Force contracted coming under the scanner. A year-long investigation by the US Senate has pointed to suspected bogus parts — amounting to over a million — in C 130 J transport aircraft as well as the test aircraft of the P 8 Poseiden series of maritime surveillance planes.
Both these aircraft have been contracted by India in the past few years under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) pact with the US. The Air Force already has six C 130 Js in service and eight P 8 maritime aircraft are likely to be inducted starting next year.
While the report does not reveal which particular planes have been found to have suspect parts, the investigation has pointed to irregularities in over 1,800 cases. This amounts to over a million suspect parts. More worryingly, most of the suspected electronic parts — ranging from chips in the display systems of the C 130 Js to components in the ice detection system of the P 8 — have originated from China.
The Senate investigation also found that at least one per cent of the suspect parts originated from India. “The investigation’s findings point to China as the dominant source of counterfeit electronic parts and the Committee concluded that the Chinese government has failed to take steps to stop counterfeiting operations that are carried out openly in that country,” the report notes.
The report has underlined that deficiencies in the supply chain of manufacturers led to the suspect parts finding their way on combat aircraft and that this can put the lives of personnel manning the systems to risk. In one particular case that was investigated, a Shenzehn-based company supplied 84,000 suspect parts to manufacturers that were fitted on to aircraft.
While in most cases, the suspect parts do not put the aircraft directly into danger, they affect critical systems that can make the difference between life and death during combat. In the C 130 J aircraft for example, the report points to suspect parts in the display system manufactured by L 3 Display Systems. These display units indicate the health of the aircraft — from engine status and location to fuel use and missile warning alerts.
In the P 8 aircraft that are being procured for maritime surveillance as well as anti-submarine and anti-ship operations, suspected bogus parts were found in the ice-detection system. This system is critical as formation of excessive ice on control surfaces can lead to the loss of an aircraft.
It is still not clear whether the detailed findings of the committee have been shared with the IAF yet. The investigation was started by the Senate Armed Services Committee in March last year. Other than the systems that India operates, suspect parts were also found on Special Operations Force A/MH-6M choppers, the C 5 transport aircraft and THAAD missile defence systems.