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Made in China: Materials on U.S. F-16 jets, B-1 bombers

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A new Pentagon report finds that banned Chinese parts have been making their way into Boeing B-1B bombers and and Lockheed Martin's F-16 fighters, the Department of Defense reported.

A senior defense official who spoke with Reuters also believes Chinese titanium may have also ended up in the test version of a new missile, the SM-3 IIA, being developed jointly by Raytheon Co and Japan.

Maureen Schumann, a Defense Department spokeswoman, told Reuters that the rare earth materials posed no risk to national security and that waivers, which were previously undisclosed, were issued for them after investigations by the Pentagon in 2012 and 2013.

The news of the waivers comes only months after it was found that Chinese parts also ended up in F-35 fighter jets. Using Chinese parts without such exemptions is against U.S. law, in part because of espionage fears and the concerns of becoming reliant on potential military adversaries for national security needs.

"It's really just sloppiness, frankly, when this happens," the defense official told Reuters. "It's not enough to say, 'I'm pretty sure it didn't come from China.' That doesn't work for us. We're looking for documents."

Reuters reached out to Lockheed, Northrop, Boeing and Raytheon, but were referred back to the U.S. government.

Due to the fact that the waivers were issued for the violations of U.S. law, the companies will not be fined, although they will have to prove that they are taking concrete steps to "tighten up their buying procedures to reflect changes in procurement rules," Reuters reported.

"It's not a 'get out of jail' free card. This is something we should be good at. We shouldn't be caught short on these," the senior defense official told Reuters. "Hundreds of regulations change yearly and there's a whole group of folks whose job it is to make sure that those (changes) are properly implemented in contracts."

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