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Blogs by Trenton Systems

10 Shocking Facts About Counterfeit Electronics [Defense & Aerospace]

This is a photo of individuals holding various electronics, such as motherboards.

Photo: Counterfeit electronic parts can have direct, sudden, and devastating effects on national security and critical infrastructure if not identified, removed, and replaced during manufacturing.

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The use of counterfeit electronic parts in defense systems can compromise performance and reliability, risk national security, and endanger the safety of military personnel.

We've discussed the counterfeit electronic parts industry, the multibillion-dollar black market that continues to adulterate the defense and aerospace supply chain.

If that blog post wasn't enough to disturb you, take a moment to absorb these 10 shocking facts about counterfeit electronic parts and their impact on the defense and aerospace markets.

Stick around to learn more about what Trenton Systems is doing to prevent counterfeit electronics infiltration.

10 Shocking Facts About Counterfeit Electronics

  1. A 2011 Senate Armed Services Committee investigation found that China is the dominant source country for counterfeit electronic parts infiltrating the defense supply chain. More than 70 percent of the suspect parts analyzed during this investigation were traced back to the country.
  2. That same 2011 Senate Armed Services Committee investigation also identified 1,800 cases of counterfeit electronic parts throughout the defense supply chain, the vast majority of which went unreported to the DoD or criminal authorities. These cases amounted to more than 1 million suspected counterfeit electronic parts.
  3. In the semiconductor industry, an estimated $7.5 billion is lost in revenue each year because of counterfeit parts, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).
  4. Counterfeit electronic parts cost the American taxpayer $2.7 million in 2010 when the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) learned mission computers for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles contained counterfeit memory devices. The MDA had no choice but to replace the parts to prevent a potentially catastrophic missile failure.
  5. An estimated 15 percent of all spare and replacement electronic parts purchased by The Pentagon are counterfeit.
  6. The Senate Armed Services Committee investigation also discovered numerous counterfeit electronic parts from China in the Air Force's largest cargo plane, in assemblies intended for Special Operations helicopters, and in a Navy surveillance plane.
  7. The Senate Armed Services Committee investigation also found that 84,000 suspect counterfeit electronic parts were inserted into the DoD supply chain by a single electronic parts supplier, Hong Dark Electronic Trade, of Shenzhen, China. These parts were found in Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) intended for the C-5AMP transport aircraft, C-12 logistics support aircraft, and the Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft (RPA).
  8. In 2011, L3Harris Technologies reported that the U.S. Air Force Joint Cargo Aircraft C-27J program had experienced four instances of suspect counterfeit electronic parts since the program's inception in 2007. These parts were found in avionics systems, Color Multipurpose Display Units (CMDU), and a Type 1 Bus Adapter Unit (BAU).
  9. Raytheon had to pay $750,000 to remediate a counterfeit part intended for the Stryker mobile gun system vehicle.
  10. Raytheon also reported in 2011 that a total of 32 counterfeit parts had entered into its supply chain during the previous two years.


  1. Hundreds of thousands of American jobs are lost each year because of counterfeiting.
  2. U.S. companies lose $200-250 billion in revenue each year because of counterfeit parts.

Sources: The Senate Armed Services Committee's Investigation Into Counterfeit Electronic Parts In the Department of Defense Supply ChainSenate Armed Services Committee Releases Report on Counterfeit Electronic Parts

This is a photo of discarded computer electronics.

Photo: The Pentagon has several initiatives in place to prevent counterfeit electronics infiltration, but prevention efforts also fall on the shoulders of contractors and their suppliers.

What can be done about counterfeit electronics?

The proliferation of counterfeit electronic parts within the DoD supply chain is difficult to control because counterfeit parts are designed to appear legitimate and function somewhat adequately, at least for a little while.

But such parts are ultimately unreliable, unvetted, and, in the case of the defense, aerospace, and government markets, could quickly and suddenly destabilize critical infrastructure, compromise national security, and cause severe injury or death. They also pose a significant cybersecurity threat.

The Pentagon continues to focus on cutting down the number of counterfeit electronic parts that enter the defense supply chain with measures like plant DNA, the Trusted Foundry program, the Supply Chain Hardware Integrity for Electronics Defense (SHIELD) program, and more recently, a zero-trust approach.

This is a photo of a Trenton Systems processor board.

Photo: Trenton Systems has numerous policies, procedures, and practices in place to avoid counterfeit electronics infiltration, supply chain attacks, and the resulting cybersecurity ramifications.

What is Trenton Systems doing to avoid counterfeit electronics?

Trenton Systems, a supplier of secure, high-performance computing solutions for military primes, aerospace companies, and other defense contractors and subcontractors, has several policies, practices, and procedures in place that protect our hardware against supply chain attacks and counterfeit electronic parts infiltration.

Number one is our supplier quality surveys, which involve vetting and verifying our suppliers' quality control systems, procedures, practices, and certifications.

We vet and qualify all of our suppliers so that we can add them to our approved vendor list (AVL). With anyone that we purchase from, whether it's a physical product or a service, we must have official documentation from that company, and from us, on file that outlines that vetting process. Part of this process involves send out a five-page survey that provides us with an overview of the company's capabilities and quality system, including what processes and procedures they have in place, what certifications they have, whether they're an ISO facility, and other critical supply chain factors that determine whether they're a trusted source with whom to do business.

This is a photo of Toni Hauck, Trenton Systems' Director of Quality Control        Toni Hauck, Director of Quality Control, Trenton Systems

Number two is our Counterfeit Protection Program (CPP). The purpose of the CPP is employee awareness, training, and understanding of counterfeit electronic parts, such as learning how counterfeit electronic parts enter the industrial supply chain and how we, as a leading manufacturer of made-in-USA rugged computing solutions, can avoid, inspect, detect, identify, document, remove, and replace suspected counterfeit electronics.

We have an entire counterfeit assessment, known as a risk mitigation evaluation, intended to test, quarantine, and report suspect counterfeit electronic parts before they ever leave our facility, should they even be able to enter in the first place. 

Counterfeit prevention guidelines that Trenton adheres to include AS5553 and ARP6328, which focus on avoidance, detection, mitigation, and disposition of counterfeit electronic parts. 

Trenton Systems also has an ongoing membership with GIDEP, is TAA compliant, undergoes internal and external audits to ensure adherence to the CPP, and has a purchasing philosophy of buying directly from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), original component manufacturers (OCMs), and other vetted, authorized distributors.

Not to mention, our rugged computing solutions are made in the USA in our secure facility in Lawrenceville, Georgia. We also control both the design and manufacturing of our solutions, ensuring that we maintain a continuously tight grip on our supply chain.

Click here for more information on Trenton Systems' quality control system, or reach out to us directly. We're more than happy to answer your questions and discuss how we're securing your rugged computer every step of the way.

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