Not All Parts Are Created Equal: The Impact Of Counterfeit Parts In The Air Force Supply Chain
Air War College, Air University Maxwell AFB United States
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The existence and the volume of counterfeit parts residing within the Department of Defenses and in particular the United States Air Forces supply chain is real. Additionally, the disproportionate numbers of legacy aircraft in operation today and in the near future continue to complicate the issues. These legacy aircraft have long life cycles, diminished manufacturing sources, and frequent material shortages. Combine all these factors and you have a target rich environment for counterfeiting that will continue to escalate as long as it is profitable.1 Counterfeit parts have been polluting the DOD supply chain since the 1990s. There are various reports, news and magazine articles on the subject, but it was not until Congress made significant legislative changes in the National Defense Authorization Act NDAA of 2012 has action been taken to mitigate and reduce counterfeit parts in the DOD supply chain. Since 2012, the U.S. Government implemented a whole of government approach to tackle this issue. This issue affects both DOD, defense contractors by increasing costs, reliability, and theft of intellectual property, and could ultimately results in the death of a military member. This paper will examine the background on counterfeiting and the potential impacts such as increased cost, poor reliability, or catastrophic consequences. Additionally, current laws, orders, and instructions from the DOD as well as the United States Air Force will be reviewed with respect to relevancy of the counterfeit part mitigation solutions. Finally, the report concludes, the overall impact that the Air Force controls is negligible because of costs, limited resources, and numerous factors most of which are outside the control of the Air Force.