The US Pentagon is intensifying efforts to decouple US Defense firms sprawling global supply chain from China, department officials and executives said.
The Defense Department said it has started using artificial intelligence to improve the way it analyzes whether aircraft parts, raw materials, and electronics used by the US Military contractors originate in China and other potential adversaries.
Defense contractors, supported by the Pentagon and lawmakers, have said they are weaning themselves off microelectronics and specialized metals from China, one of the most significant global suppliers. In the US, new facilities are under development to refine rare-earth minerals, most of which remain extensively sourced from China.
Relying on Russia for titanium or China for circuit boards makes no sense if conflict or sanctions cut off supplies, Pentagon leaders said. The recent heightening of hostilities over Taiwan has added to the unease.
Earlier this month, the US Department of Defense stopped accepting new F-35 combat jets manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp after being informed they contained magnets sourced from Honeywell International Inc. with metal alloys produced in China.
Honeywell stated to the Pentagon that engine components it made for the jets contained two alloys sourced from China that were turned into magnets. The firm said it had found an alternative supplier but didn’t give details. Honeywell said it remains dedicated to supplying high-quality products, and Lockheed Martin said manufacturing continued at its plant in Fort Worth, Texas. The Pentagon said it expects a waiver will be issued for F-35 deliveries to resume.