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U.S. Waived Laws To Keep F-35 On Track With China-made Parts

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the boondoggle-that-won't-die dept.

The Military 348

An anonymous reader sends this report from Reuters: "The Pentagon repeatedly waived laws banning Chinese-built components on U.S. weapons in order to keep the $392 billion Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter program on track in 2012 and 2013, even as U.S. officials were voicing concern about China's espionage and military buildup. According to Pentagon documents reviewed by Reuters, chief U.S. arms buyer Frank Kendall allowed two F-35 suppliers, Northrop Grumman Corp and Honeywell International Inc, to use Chinese magnets for the new warplane's radar system, landing gears and other hardware. Without the waivers, both companies could have faced sanctions for violating federal law and the F-35 program could have faced further delays."

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348 comments

Don't imagine it stops there. (3, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | about 7 months ago | (#45865209)

There's a lot of electronic parts in those planes. Seriously, where do you get the electronic components to run a modern warplane if not from China this last decade?

Re: Don't imagine it stops there. (1, Informative)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 7 months ago | (#45865231)

The US has numerous fabs and electronics manufacturing facilities. I suspect this was done to help alleviate the job slaughtering and cost inflation caused by economic uncertainty and the fiscal cliff, related to Congress's inability to pass a budget.

The budget has become Congress's albatross, and has far reaching implications in the defense industry.

Re: Don't imagine it stops there. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865395)

Which is why they need to cut military budget by 50%. Bring our men and women home and let the dogs in the middle east kill each other.
Nothing but a bunch of Pork eating dogs, every single one of them that take up arms against another human being. The ones that are against violence, those are pure in Allah's eyes.

Re: Don't imagine it stops there. (0, Flamebait)

Immerman (2627577) | about 7 months ago | (#45865469)

So then what should we think of our military that's been over there slaughtering men, women and children in numbers that dwarf anything they're doing to themselves? Not to mention the fact that we're the ones who created the problem in the first place by overthrowing their legitimate democratic government and installing a bloodthirsty despot sympathetic to American interests during the Cold War.

Re: Don't imagine it stops there. (1, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | about 7 months ago | (#45865567)

Um seriously?

Take a look at Syria. There are no US troops there and they are slaughtering themselves just fine. Iraq still has weekly car bombings. Hell in Iraq the majority of all deaths were not from coalition troops but from Muslim fighters killing everyone who didn't agree with them.

Personally I say we retreat back to north america maybe keep one or two bases open and wait in 20 years the world will descend into major war. For as war hungry as the USA has been theUSA has been the person everyone can hate equally.

Of course I also believe in letting Iran have nukes. Iran is stupid enough to use them. Most likely against Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

Re: Don't imagine it stops there. (1, Flamebait)

Immerman (2627577) | about 7 months ago | (#45865739)

I didn't say they weren't slaughtering each other just fine, just that they started largely because of us, and whenever we get directly involved we do much worse to no better end. Hell we had an ongoing death toll in Iraq of over a hundred thousand before 9/11. Or was that Afghanistan, I forget. The point is that we've been neck-deep in the Middle East since the fifties at least. Most of the area had actually developed stable democracies, or were at least in the process of gently phasing out monarchies prior to US intervention during the Cold War - whereupon we installed extremist dictators for our own ends, picking from those who had no chance of seizing or holding power legitimately (after all we want them loyal). We can't duck our share of the responsibility for the mess they made when we were propping up their regime the whole time.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 7 months ago | (#45865233)

Did you not even read TFS? Electronics weren't being imported, rare-earth magnets were. We're still capable of building our own electronics, we just can't do it as cheaply as the Chinese.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (0, Troll)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 7 months ago | (#45865267)

we cannot build electronics in the US anymore. we don't own the plants that produce the transistors, resistors, caps, diodes, etc. for the last 30 or more years, those have been made exclusively in asia (all over asia, not just china). I can't remember the last time I found a transistor or chip made on US soil.

assembly, sure; but making the parts is all done overseas. we sold outselves out in that regard. and see the capacitor problem (badcaps.net) that we have had to live with the past 20 or so years. those parts are also in the MILITARY and other sensitive pipelines. the caps that blow up on your motherboard also exist in everything else we build, unless we pay a premium for japanese caps (the chinese ones are all known to be bad; no one I know builds with chinese knock-off capacitors anymore; but I bet those that want to save every dime do cheap-out and use those bad parts).

I wish we would start a jobs program to bring electronics manufacturing back to the US. if nothing else, just for peace of mind, to be able to use those parts in critical situations and KNOW they are designed and built properly.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865355)

we cannot build electronics in the US anymore. we don't own the plants that produce the transistors, resistors, caps, diodes, etc. for the last 30 or more years, those have been made exclusively in asia (all over asia, not just china). I can't remember the last time I found a transistor or chip made on US soil.

assembly, sure; but making the parts is all done overseas. we sold outselves out in that regard. and see the capacitor problem (badcaps.net) that we have had to live with the past 20 or so years. those parts are also in the MILITARY and other sensitive pipelines. the caps that blow up on your motherboard also exist in everything else we build, unless we pay a premium for japanese caps (the chinese ones are all known to be bad; no one I know builds with chinese knock-off capacitors anymore; but I bet those that want to save every dime do cheap-out and use those bad parts).

I wish we would start a jobs program to bring electronics manufacturing back to the US. if nothing else, just for peace of mind, to be able to use those parts in critical situations and KNOW they are designed and built properly.

Not true. Intel has a number of major semiconductor fabrication plants in the US. So have Micron, Freescale, Cypress, On, Texas Instruments and others.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (3, Informative)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 7 months ago | (#45865357)

Oh really [wikipedia.org] ? There are still fabrication plants in the US. Not too many, but they exist and can manufacture semiconductor components.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (1)

samkass (174571) | about 7 months ago | (#45865377)

Here's a list of semiconductor manufacturing plants [wikipedia.org] many of which are in the United States, including some of the most advanced fab lines in the world. It's true, as others have said, that assembly almost always happens in Asia now, though, but that's not a requirement if you're not price conscious. As for the capacitors and such, I think there's been less concern about them from a security standpoint.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (1, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 7 months ago | (#45865511)

"many of which"

but not the majority.

and besides, this is about higher end chips.

you don't have common parts (the non-semi conductors like caps and resistors) made here. its not economical and its not specialized, generally, so its NEVER done here other than for rare circumstances (some high end audio parts might be made here but on a very tiny production scale and not for common use).

the wiki article is not the full truth. some higher end chips are made here but that's NOT what the issue is about. you can't build entire systems from US based parts anymore. it simply can't be done. most of your parts (usually all) are not US made. and your pc board is not just one single high-end chip.

and while you can get pcb's made in the US, its rarely done, as well. all the big players send out for their pcb's to be made.

assembly is mostly done overseas, too.

and now, even design is done there.

over time, we have a tiny percent left in terms of design and build.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 7 months ago | (#45865379)

I wish we would start a jobs program to bring electronics manufacturing back to the US. if nothing else, just for peace of mind, to be able to use those parts in critical situations and KNOW they are designed and built properly.

What would be the point? It'd just be overpriced junk that drives up the cost of military purchases even more than they already are. The US is in the process of destroying its economy. It no longer matters IMHO whether parts are made by potential future enemies or not.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#45865479)

Hello Milo. I didn't realize you posted on Slashdot, Lt. Minderbinder.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865681)

The parts itself would be a tiny part of the cost as there are a lot more in a contract than just making them. e.g. R&D, lots of qualifications, paperwork, process and overheads etc.

I sort of agree with the view that unless you can make all the parts from mining all the way to finished goods, it is a moot point of avoiding future enemies. It is however important to have the long term inventory in place as parts these days have lifetime of 5 years or less before they go EOL.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865399)

Companies like Analog Devices still have fabs in the US, plus in Europe too. So you can find semiconductors that are made in countries outside of Asia, or even in the US. The place I work for has ordered custom capacitors that were made in the US. They are not cheap, and we only paid because we had some tight design requirements and needed some engineering work from the capacitor manufacturing company. Custom transformers and inductors made in the US seem to be a lot more common. If you are determined to source all of your parts in the US, it is quite possible, although expect it to potentially cost more, or to have some time delays if needing for setup of a custom run.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865411)

I Blame republicans. Those assholes are all for letting Corporations doing whatever it takes to increase profits. At least some of the new guys coming in are sensible and demanding we start taxing heavily the Companies that ship manufacturing off shore.

Make your parts in china, you have to pay 1200% tax on them.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about 7 months ago | (#45865583)

Neither mercantilism nor fascism, which is the sort of economic technique you are proposing, is successful in practice.

Or is it that you believe that anyone not American, particularly the Chinese, is unworthy to deal with Americans? That's either racism or nationalism.

There are several reasons for not buying military products outside the US, particularly from those not our closest allies. Risk of sabotage. Risk of inferior goods. Inability to inspect production process. Loss of new product and replacement parts in case of war, particularly if the enemy is the supplier. Loss of critical production technology. Loss of production paper trail. Loss of military production lines. Longer supply lines. Etc.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865643)

Playing the race card is insightful now? When I do it, I get modded troll and flamebait, but Chris Maple can do no wrong I guess.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 7 months ago | (#45865645)

There are several reasons for not buying military^W strategic products outside the US, particularly from those not our closest allies.

Shooting wars are not the only types of conflict that modern societies engage in.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865621)

I Blame democrats. If it wasn't for the union's there'd be no incentive to ship jobs to China.

(roman_mir, karma'd out by nanny-state socialists again)

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (2)

ImOuttaHere (2996813) | about 7 months ago | (#45865429)

Absolutely! The US can and does still produce their own electronics. As for "cheap", that's changed. The West has moved enough jobs offshore that we have created salary competition in China (even though their education in science and engineering still sux). It's rather like what we did for India around software development and call centers a decade ago. Cost parity between formerly cheap East and formerly expensive West has been achieved.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (3, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 7 months ago | (#45865483)

I build electronic things and I have yet to see a single transistor or other part with a 'made in usa' designation.

go to the usual supply houses and find some for me, ok? mouser, digikey, newark, jameco, etc. go browse for common parts like resistors, chips, caps, diodes, etc. find me any significant amount of those common yet important parts that are made here.

some of you are quoting wiki, but having been in the electronics industry for several decades, I have yet to see any modern parts (other than specialized stuff) being made here at the component level.

go and prove me wrong. but I'd need to see more than 'wiki' to believe it. every part I have used that I bought from a distributor is made overseas. 100% of them. and I've been doing this for a long, long time - longer than many of you have been alive.

I do try to find US made parts but I have to go to a surplus store and buy stuff from the 50's and 60's to find 'new old stock'. anything from the 80's onward (roughly) is outsourced. everyone knows it, too, who is in the industry.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865659)

and I've been doing this for a long, long time - longer than many of you have been alive.

Well damn grandpa! Let me get the fuck off your lawn!

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 months ago | (#45865683)

Mouser, Digikey, Newark, Jameco basically sell 'generic' electronics. Suitable for every day use. If you want American sourced products, be prepared to pay and be prepared to source them differently. None of those parts distributors could make it on the prices one expects to pay for USA! stuff. Interestingly, though, a quick look through Thomas Register failed to find any distributor that sells predominantly US made components. It may be such a small market that only the people that need to know have that knowledge.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 7 months ago | (#45865629)

Did you not even read TFS? Electronics weren't being imported, rare-earth magnets were. We're still capable of building our own electronics, we just can't do it as cheaply as the Chinese.

DO they currently manufacture LCD displays in the USA? At all?

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (4, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | about 7 months ago | (#45865241)

It sort of shows how vulnerable America really is in terms of being able to wage a major war, and how badly the U.S. Congress has sold out the American people with it encouragement of outsources manufacturing outside of America. Sure, there are many reasons why electronics companies in particular no longer manufacture their components or devices in America any more (where at one time 100% of all ICs were made in America on a global basis), but a great deal has to do with both treaties that Congress has ratified and specific trade policies that have basically gutted the manufacturing base in America.

I guess we shouldn't go to war against China, as we would be literally destroying our own factories.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (2, Insightful)

Bartles (1198017) | about 7 months ago | (#45865413)

You left out tax policy, environmental policy, and labor policy as well. Those are more responsible for gutting the manufacturing base. I speak as a manufacturer.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (4, Interesting)

Immerman (2627577) | about 7 months ago | (#45865505)

Right. If only we'd allow you to pay an even more miniscule tax rate, use slave labor, and dump your toxic waste into the public water supply you could be more competitive. Forgive me if I'm not sympathetic.

A proper response would be not to weaken local regulations, but to impose tariffs on imported goods manufactured in conditions exploiting such socialized costs. Of course that would likely start a trade war with China, which we can ill afford. So perhaps we should encourage public shaming of domestic companies that import products with such an unfair advantage?

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (5, Interesting)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 7 months ago | (#45865499)

F-35's are not for "major wars". It's bleeding edge, horribly expensive multi-role aircraft that does none of the roles well. The ill-founded claims by its manufacturers that it is "eight times more effective in air-to-ground combat" is pointless since it is almost 10 times as expensive to build and operate as a more specifically ground combat focused aircraft. The "build a core design and bolt on different components for different roles" has led to a variety of tragic design flaws that have been incredibly expensive to address for all its different variations. It's also a complete maintenance nightmare: the redesigns needed to reduce the weight, after it was enlarged to hold more weapons and provide larger engines, has led to customized parts that no one else uses, on the very edge of the strength/weight tradeoff to keep the weight down. So they fail, frequently, and are very expensive to replace. When confronted with various design flaws, such as the extremely por cockpit visibility leading to trivial destruction by cheaper aircraft in combat, Boing's suggestion that "that pilots worried about being shot down should fly cargo aircraft instead"

There is no chance that this aircraft will have the reliability and longevity of many existing models of current US aircraft, which means incredible ongoing costs in repairing and replacing expensive aircraft that can never be used at their full capabilities_. They are displacing budgets for manpower (needed for ground warfare and holding territory, as seen in Iraq and Afghanistan), supply craft (for keeping troops and warcraft supplied), base maintenance (to train and equip men and machines), and drones (which are far cheaper and more effective than modern aircraft at targeteed strikes). The best thing that could happen for the US milatary with this aircraft is to pull the plug on it _now_, throw 1/3 of money into a rebuild and oversupply of more conventional aircraft, use 1/3 the budget to build newer, more specifically suited aircraft for each military branch instead of a Swiss Army Aircraft, and use the remaining 1/3 for manpower support. America is short on the ground troops and personnel to run the several occupying wars we're in the midst of.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865597)

You get angry often, dude?

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865691)

The best thing you could do is learn some fucking English but then shut the fuck up and don't use it because you have no idea what you're talking about. I work on F35s daily testing these bugs you bitch about and so far everything is fine. All new models of anything have issues and they get fixed as time goes on. There is no "killer" problem with the F35 that we can find, only a few small annoyances really. The F135 engine can put out the power as well though we are thoroughly pissed Congress killed the F136. You should always have a backup.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (2)

postmortem (906676) | about 7 months ago | (#45865245)

You get them made from your own designs in Taiwan, which is not exactly PRC.

China objects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865315)

China strongly insists that such components are indeed contract manufactured in China.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865257)

The U.S. still has a lot of electronics manufacturing. I don't really see a problem with using foreign magnets. As long as they are checked for tampering.

Re: Don't imagine it stops there. (2)

ikedasquid (1177957) | about 7 months ago | (#45865303)

Given that the aircraft contains hundreds of thousands of parts, I'd be willing to bet more than just a few "China" parts have slipped in. It's one thing if it's some $10,000 part...but for a handful of $2 magnets (which if we did go to war with China could be found in stockrooms all across the US) who cares. Don't get me wrong - this should be avoided. It happened as an oversight and a waiver was granted. Thats the kind of thing waivers are for. We don't need Uncle Sam spending $100K to replace $2 magnets.

Re: Don't imagine it stops there. (4, Funny)

glavenoid (636808) | about 7 months ago | (#45865333)

..but for a handful of $2 magnets (which if we did go to war with China could be found in stockrooms all across the US) who cares

I do. They're probably counterfeit magnets made out of melamine and lead paint, and they probably don't even have a south pole...

Re: Don't imagine it stops there. (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 7 months ago | (#45865389)

always cutting corners with their one-pole magnets!

Re: Don't imagine it stops there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865655)

I do. They're probably counterfeit magnets made out of melamine and lead paint, and they probably don't even have a south pole...

You mean a monopole? [wikipedia.org]

Re: Don't imagine it stops there. (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about 7 months ago | (#45865609)

It isn't just a question of a few foreign parts slipping in. Counterfeit military grade parts have been an ongoing scandal for decades. In some cases the parts have not received mandatory testing, in others the parts have been inferior and have failed in use.

Re:Don't imagine it stops there. (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 7 months ago | (#45865507)

You get them from the US. There a number of domestic fabs pumping out military parts. You also don't need, or even want, cutting edge electronics because of the need for high reliability over wide temperature extremes and radiation exposure. This allows domestic production without the need for billion dollar manufacturing facilities.

So I'll ask the one question that really matters (-1, Troll)

DarkOx (621550) | about 7 months ago | (#45865211)

Does the law as written actually permit the granting of waivers or is this just more of the Obama administration making it up as it goes along?

Re:So I'll ask the one question that really matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865253)

Does the law as written actually permit the granting of waivers or is this just more of the Obama administration making it up as it goes along?

If not they'll just amend it so they can further their policy of "laws apply to the little people, not the corporations, of America".

Re:So I'll ask the one question that really matter (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 7 months ago | (#45865281)

Read the article, they are indeed following the law.

Re:So I'll ask the one question that really matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865327)

Read the article, they are indeed following the law.

The Venn diagram for "U.S. Waived Laws" and "they are indeed following the law" isn't a popular meeting place.

Re:So I'll ask the one question that really matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865731)

The thing to remember is, this isn't really a criminal matter, though even those have exceptions, so much as a matter of procedure.

"It will be done this way" is very different from "don't do this because it's wrong"

Re: So I'll ask the one question that really matte (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865343)

Who the hell knows. This administration passes laws without even reading them (I'd say they were illiterate but Obama can read the teleprompter pretty well lol)

Re: So I'll ask the one question that really matte (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865391)

This administration passes laws without even reading them

Congress and this administration pass laws without even reading them. Sad but true.

Re: So I'll ask the one question that really matte (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865447)

Slashdot-tards comment on news with hate filled rhetoric without even reading them. Sad but true.

Re: So I'll ask the one question that really matte (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#45865497)

Someone using the term "Slashdot-tards" complaining about "hate filled rhetoric"? Since you read carefully, I presume you're familiar with irony.

Re: So I'll ask the one question that really matte (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865723)

I know, right! The sad part is, not even slang is immune from the horrible education system and generally apathetic populace we have today. The word is SLASHTARD, not Slashdot-tard. I will give points for proper (though probably accidental) use of the hyphen. Still, you got the word wrong you dumb AC fuck!

Re:So I'll ask the one question that really matter (2)

PPH (736903) | about 7 months ago | (#45865623)

Does the law as written actually permit the granting of waivers

Yes. If a manufacturer can demonstrate that some resource or component is not available domestically, they can seek a waiver.

The sad part is having worked for a DoD contractor that, upon identifying technologies with potential national security applications, crate it up and ship it offshore before it gets identified and put under ITAR restrictions. Its more profitable to sell the product worldwide from overseas locations and back into a US defense program with the waiver than to get it stuck on American soil.

It would be cheaper to cancel the program. (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about 7 months ago | (#45865213)

And maybe better for national security.

Russians too? (1)

danceswithtrees (968154) | about 7 months ago | (#45865247)

Do the Russians also make their war machines using components from potential rivals or is this purely an American thing?

Re:Russians too? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865317)

"Components. American components, Russian Components, ALL MADE IN TAIWAN!"

Re:Russians too? (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#45865437)

Taiwan wouldn't be quite so bad - at least they're a US ally.

Re:Russians too? (1)

tftp (111690) | about 7 months ago | (#45865729)

If the USA is attacked, do you expect Taiwan to declare war on the attacker, or to send troops? If not, Taiwan is not an ally, but a protectorate [wikipedia.org] .

Exaggeration much? (5, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 7 months ago | (#45865249)

Assuming that there is any sort of provision to waive the restriction under chosen circumstances (and if there aren't, then the law could use a bit of a fixing), we're talking about magnets here. This isn't as though they're using a whole PCB from China with their firmware or something. Magnets. You can't do much spying with a piece of metal. If the random testing they do on all components anyway passes, I don't see any reason to find this problematic. China already has a near monopoly on rare earth materials so it's not particularly surprising that this is happening.

The good thing to do would be to try to plan ahead and develop internal facilities so that eventually it's roughly breaking even to use US magnets instead. The danger isn't in the magnets but in the dependency on another country.

Re:Exaggeration much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865323)

The danger isn't in the magnets but in the dependency on another country.

And that danger is actually quite grave. If a lack of a resource or product causes your country to lose air superiority, then that should be looked at with concern.

Re:Exaggeration much? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865431)

And that danger is actually quite grave.

Grave? Really? Quit trying to pump up the importance of the F-35's radar system, landing gear and other hardware. /sarcasm

All about money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865435)

The danger isn't in the magnets but in the dependency on another country.

And that danger is actually quite grave. If a lack of a resource or product causes your country to lose air superiority, then that should be looked at with concern.

Are we talking about magnets or money here?

If it's money, we're totally screwed - it's one of the reasons the F-22 program was canceled in favor of this piece of shit (F-35).

And there ARE sources in the US of A for the rare earths but nobody wants to pay for the "Dug up in USA" materials.

We are starting to feel what the British felt during the last days of their empire. All those years of military spending - emptying their coffers - caught up with them. This prjecting power around the World is costing us quite a bit and it does nothing for our security or freesom.

Just ask yourself, we spent all this money in the Middle East and all we did was cause more problems and in one case re-installed a monarchy (Kuwait) back into power.

Fighting for freedom, indeed.

We Americans need to stop falling for the "fighting for freedom" and "fighting terrorism" bullshit and take a real hard skeptical look at our geo-political strategies.

Defending Japan is one thing. Overthrowing a government to keep oil prices low is another.

Disclaimer: This is by no means intended to be a thorough analysis. This is just a /. post.

Re: All about money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865587)

Is it actually legal to mine and process rare earths in he US? Hint. The answer is that after 15 years of lawsuit, maybe, perhaps, but probably not.

Re:Exaggeration much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865351)

If magnets don't matter why weren't they included as an exception in the law to begin with?

The importance of anything can be diminished and discounted when it serves the needs of someone in power or Corporate America.

Re:Exaggeration much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865353)

"The good thing to do would be to try to plan ahead and develop internal facilities so that eventually it's roughly breaking even to use US magnets instead. The danger isn't in the magnets but in the dependency on another country."

That is the whole reason this rule is in place. DoD shouldn't have allowed the big contractors to avoid it.

Re:Exaggeration much? (0)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#45865409)

we're talking about magnets here

And magnets are unimportant? If you think so, you aren't familiar with their importance.

You can't do much spying with a piece of metal.

You can't do much spying with just a piece of glass either, yet lots of spy technology uses very sophisticated lenses. Just the tech for making certain types of optical glass, let alone turning it into lenses, is very sophisticated stuff.

China already has a near monopoly on rare earth materials

Because we let them have a near monopoly. There are deposits of rare earth metals in the US and other countries besides China. China has even played games with prohibiting the export of rare earths (in direct violation of trade agreements, but nobody ever calls China on that anyway).

The good thing to do would be to try to plan ahead and develop internal facilities so that eventually it's roughly breaking even to use US magnets instead.

Even better would have been not to have sold Magnequench to China in the first place.

Re:Exaggeration much? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 7 months ago | (#45865579)

Even better would have been not to have sold Magnequench to China in the first place.

But they are only a manufacturer that takes rare earths as an input. Had their prices for RE been pushed up, they'd be out of business anyway. What we need is a domestic supply of RE ores.

Re:Exaggeration much? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#45865649)

they are only a manufacturer that takes rare earths as an input ... What we need is a domestic supply of RE ores.

We need both. Oddly, we used to have both. Then we decided to sell the country at fire sale prices. Have you seen a check for your cut of the proceeds of that sale?

Imagine a world... (1)

Rick Zeman (15628) | about 7 months ago | (#45865255)

...where we'd outsourced defense materials to the Soviet Union. That would rightfully be called "freaking insane."

This isn't too different.

Re:Imagine a world... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865305)

During the height of the cold war, around the time of the Cuban missile crisis, the US built the SR-71, which was designed to spy on the Soviet Union, out of titanium supplied *by* the Soviet Union, which at the time had a near-monopoly on titanium.

Re:Imagine a world... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#45865417)

Out of temporary necessity, the titanium was bought through third parties without the USSR knowing what it was being used for. The supply situation was also rectified ASAP.

Re:Imagine a world... (2)

PPH (736903) | about 7 months ago | (#45865561)

We could have bought it from Canada. Had we not fucked over their military aircraft program for the benefit of US arms manufacturers. That ill will must run deep for us to have to turn to Russia for our supply.

Re:Imagine a world... (1)

mnooning (759721) | about 7 months ago | (#45865309)

Yes indeed.

After the war of 1812 it became clear to Britian that the US was becoming a major force. Over the ensuing decades Britian spent a lot of effort to contain us militarily. We did not care because we had no external designs. China is in our old position. We are in Britians. Let us act on our hopes, not our fears. On the other hand, China already seems to be trying to take control of vast sea and island areas. Ouch.

Re:Imagine a world... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#45865433)

After the war of 1812 it became clear to Britian that the US was becoming a major force.

Hardly. The US military was still a joke compared to the UK's. The miracle is that we fought the War of 1812 to a draw instead of going back to being a British colony. Much of that was due to the fact that the UK was tied up in the Napoleonic Wars at the time. The War of 1812 was an all consuming war for the US, and a sideshow for the UK.

Over the ensuing decades Britian spent a lot of effort to contain us militarily.

Examples?

Re:Imagine a world... (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about 7 months ago | (#45865747)

FWIW, the War of 1812 was in large part caused by the British practice of stopping US ships and taking any sailor suspected of being British. Britain did this because they were engaged in war with France. The conditions leading to the "miracle" of Britain not defeating the US are the same conditions that lead to the Britain-US conflict in the first place.

No war with France ==> no impressing sailors ==> no War of 1812. (==>Andrew Jackson never becomes a military hero ==> he's never elected president ==> US becomes a better place than it has.)

Re:Imagine a world... (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 7 months ago | (#45865589)

>Let us act on our hopes, not our fears. On the other hand, China already seems to be trying to take control of vast sea and island areas. Ouch.

Take control from who? A handful of neighbors that they've been at odds with forever? Or from some other superpower that tries to exert authority over everything not absolutely locked down as belonging to someone else (and quite a few things that are).

As unnerving as I find the prospect of China as a military superpower, I find is slightly less frightening in the long-term than having only a single global superpower throwing its weight around unchecked. And from a strategic perspective can hardly blame them for wanting to seize control of the islands off their coast - so long as they are controlled by a potentially hostile foreign superpower China can be effectively blockaded - there are precious few viable overland routes out of China. And as anyone who has ever played GO or planned a siege can tell you, if your enemy can be contained then you've already won, only the timing and concessions remain to be discussed.

Re:Imagine a world... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#45865689)

Take control from who? A handful of neighbors that they've been at odds with forever?

Yes.

Or from some other superpower that tries to exert authority over everything not absolutely locked down as belonging to someone else

Don't overgeneralize - we're not talking about Iraq here. Those islands belong to various countries in East Asia and the surrounding waters. Yes, most of them are US allies, but they're becoming more strongly allied with the US because they're afraid of China. Vietnam an ally? Fact is stranger than fiction. The Philippines making contingency plans to let us return to Clark AFB and Subic Bay (bases that we left in an entirely peaceful way at the request of the Philippine government). Yeah, they're more concerned about China than the US - and with good reason.

Re:Imagine a world... (1)

codegen (103601) | about 7 months ago | (#45865425)

During the latter part of the cold war, some older search radars used by the US and Canada used vacuum tubes. Vacuum tubes were no longer manufactured in western countries and were only manufactured in Czechoslovakia which was part of the communist block at the time.

Re:Imagine a world... (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 7 months ago | (#45865563)

I don't know how true this is/was, but I read a story about the Soviets sourcing natural gas pumping systems from the U.S. (potentially stealing, not sure...) anyway, U.S. intelligence got wind of it and planted malicious control software in the systems - made a big, expensive boom.

This was "Cold War" stuff, we have too much active trade with China to be doing stuff to actively hurt them.

The parts were not a secret (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 7 months ago | (#45865271)

the parts they sourced seem pretty harmless and they are only doing this for the test phase... the main production will be all US parts and again these weren't secret parts.

Re:The parts were not a secret (4, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 7 months ago | (#45865381)

The F-35 is already in production and has been for several years - its in a phase called Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) and the aircraft produced under is are indeed final production examples (barring any rework needed) rather than test aircraft.

100 production standard aircraft have been produced to date.

Re:The parts were not a secret (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 7 months ago | (#45865717)

Do you think we gave the chinese compromising technical knowledge of the plane by sourcing some magnets from chinese companies?

I don't.

I think for FUTURE planes they should be sourced entirely from US production. But since they made a stupid mistake they should just leave the chinese parts alone assuming they were accurate when they said it was only simple non-classified parts.

Re:The parts were not a secret (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 7 months ago | (#45865569)

I believe the magnets could be called a "rare commodity" - something that we should probably be buying from overseas in bulk to help keep it expensive for everyone else. There are U.S. sources, but why use up those when you can reduce other countries' supply instead?

Magnaquench (5, Informative)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#45865339)

Wasn't it a clever idea to let Magnaquench be sold to China? For those unfamiliar with it Magnaquench was one of, if not the, pioneer in rare earth magnets, and their use in various applications, including military. Here are links to articles about it in two websites that are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Anything that the Heritage Foundation and DailyKos agree on is definitely worth considering.

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/05/magnequench-cfius-and-chinas-thirst-for-us-defense-technology [heritage.org]

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/05/03/508203/-Magnaquench-160-Weapon-technology-with-a-bow-on-it [dailykos.com]

Dangerous path (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | about 7 months ago | (#45865341)

Frank Kendall allowed two F-35 suppliers, Northrop Grumman Corp and Honeywell International Inc, to use Chinese magnets for the new warplane's radar system, landing gears and other hardware

That is worse than buying the whole plane, because the weakest link, in this case magnets, will end up being a critical factor anyways.
So you might as well save taxpayer money by purchasing whole planes.
Perhaps it is time to figure out an alternative source of rare earth minerals instead.

Re:Dangerous path (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865427)

If you really checked into this, you would see that the magnets are also used in the weapons systems, in the warheads, etc...
Outsourcing the production became a problem in the mid 90's.

Re:Dangerous path (2)

ImOuttaHere (2996813) | about 7 months ago | (#45865473)

... and China _knows_ about it's advantage in rare earth minerals. What will happen when that precious supply is mysteriously interrupted?

It's a very similar situation to what the CIA and NSA currently find themselves in with regard to optical quality glass for lenses. Nearly ALL of it comes from China. Consider satellites and lenses for spying and you'll perhaps begin to see just how ridiculous the West's dependance on China has become. Makes a person question the role of Nation States in terms of "national security" when they allow businesses in their own countries to ship jobs offshore in short-term attempts to drive down costs.

Re:Dangerous path (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865529)

The weakest link is humans who operate those planes.

If they're smart, they would sell your pilots underwears that are equipped with materials capable of causing itch under certain conditions (ex: high-G). Nobody would know that, even the pilots themselves.

Re:Dangerous path (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 7 months ago | (#45865637)

Yeah, because it's so easy to install a kill switch/monitoring hardware in a piece of magnetized ceramic...

No argument about rare earths, except that we already know of lots of alternative sources - the only problem is that now that China has a stranglehold on production they can make it impossible for anyone else to open an economically viable mine - start building a mine and China drops the price of rare earths until you give up. They can even sell below cost knowing that they can ratchet up the price later to make back any losses. It would be easy enough to break the stranglehold if companies were willing to commit to purchasing from the competition despite higher prices, but why would any single company sacrifice their competitiveness like that?

Laws (1)

XcepticZP (1331217) | about 7 months ago | (#45865359)

Laws like this are generally only enforced when it is convenient for those that make the rules. When they are no longer convenient, they go out the window.

Re:Laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865515)

Laws like this are generally only enforced when it is convenient for those that make the rules. When they are no longer convenient, they go out the window.

This seems to be happening a lot lately. The legislative branch passes laws, but then the executive branch decides to pick and choose when and which parts it wants to execute. A law is passed that requires these parts to be not made in China, but then the Pentagon decides it doesn't feel like doing that sometimes, so it doesn't. A law is passed that requires every American to buy health insurance and requires employers to offer it, but Obama decides he's not going to require businesses to do their part. So my employer cancels the health plan I've had for 10 years that was 20% of my compensation because it knows its employees have no choice but to buy their own now. We all just took massive pay cuts because the White House decided not to execute part of the law, and corporations just got a massive Christmas bonus.

A magnet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865459)

A fucking magnet? The US can't make a magnet? ...or find some way to change the design to find a magnet we can make?

Can't put a man in space, can't make a magnet, can't come up with a better design...government turning into a spying dictatorship ...this is starting to feel more like a third world country every day!

U.S. Waived Laws To Keep F-35 On Track With China- (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865491)

The nation is in the very best of hands.

Obama proves the theory that that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

Magnets? How about jet engines? (3)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#45865527)

If you think the magnet thing is bad, how do you feel about G.E. to Share Jet Technology With China in New Joint Venture [nytimes.com] ? No dual use there, right? An easy field to develop expertise in, right? Which explains why the three major Western jet engine manufacturers (GE, Pratt-Whitney and Rolls-Royce), have been in control of the field since WWII. This is not something you figure out overnight. It's also no secret that jet engines are the biggest obstacle to developing "all Chinese" fighters.

So it's all about the politics and (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 7 months ago | (#45865533)

...the contractors "saving face". Reliability and performance are secondary considerations, at best. Color me unsurprised.

China vs. Japan (3, Insightful)

Fnord666 (889225) | about 7 months ago | (#45865535)

I like the part where the article's headline specifically calls out the Chinese sourced magnets even though in three of the four violations cited the magnets came from Japan, not China.

What's New?? (1)

jmd (14060) | about 7 months ago | (#45865603)

American Gov't always speak with forked tongue.

eeee (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45865657)

America, Made in China

It is how to address national debt (1)

EngineeringStudent (3003337) | about 7 months ago | (#45865677)

US to China: you stole the result of a $400 Billion warplane technology development process, so we are writing that value off of what we owe you in national debt.

If we billed them for IP stolen then we would very quickly make up the $16 Trillion we owe.

As long as they don't know it's F-35 parts (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 7 months ago | (#45865743)

When the request for parts comes in, or on the bill of sale for that matter, I wonder if it says "Lockheed Martin". Or if they use another company to purchase the parts. It's not like the Chinese are building engines and navigation systems for the F-35. If they don't know what the parts are for, this might not be so bad. If they do know, that is bad. Of course, now that it's a story on the internet, I suppose the cat's out of the bag anyway - which I am not comfortable with.
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