Chinese-Owned Company Material Electronic Devices On U.S. And U.K. F-35 Fighter Jets thumbnail

Chinese-Owned Company Material Electronic Devices On U.S. And U.K. F-35 Fighter Jets

By Blair Morris

December 12, 2019

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“We are not aware of any other Chinese-owned F-35 suppliers at this time,” Lockheed Martin said after the U.K.’s Sky News reported that “a Chinese-owned company is making circuit boards for the top-secret next-generation F-35 warplanes flown by Britain and the United States.” British MP Bob Seely, who sits on both the Foreign Affairs and Arms Export Controls Committees described the news as “breath-taking,” warning that “it’s not a question of is this bad, but how bad is it?” This was echoed by Sir Gerald Howarth, a former U.K. defense minister, who warned that “we have been completely and utterly naive about the role of China and it is only now that people are beginning to wake up.”

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In truth, though, this revelation has been hiding in plain sight. The U.K. company, Exception PCB, was acquired by Shenzhen Fastprint in 2013, “a company based in China and listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.” Exception openly heralds its global parent: “The Fastprint Group of Companies provides manufacturing sites in the U.K., U.S. and Asia, trading companies in the U.K., U.S., Israel, China and main EU Countries,” as well as “truly global support… for all sectors including Aerospace.”

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Exception was founded in 1977 and claims online to supply technology to major players in the global defense industry, including BAE Systems, QinetiQ, GE Aviation, Leonardo, SAAB and Thales, as well as major electronics players such as ARM, Qualcomm, Motorola, Dyson, Siemens, McLaren, Bosch and Philips. Fastprint invested in Exception PCB in 2013 “as part of a long term plan and has provided funding to restructure the group over the past four years. The restructure has been successful with significant improvement in operational performance on all measures; and as a result, the financial results are improving in line with Fastprint’s expectations.” The company also heralds “synergy with Fastprint,” delivering “global supplier and local culture.”

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With the ongoing conflict between the U.S. and China over the integrity and potential risk with electronics and software-related supply chains, this publicity lands at an awkward time and highlights the global nature of supply chains that even reach into the secretive aerospace and defense industry. F-35 publicity claims that “Gloucestershire-based Exception PCB manufacture the circuit boards that control many of the F-35’s core capabilities… [including] its engines, lighting, fuel and navigation systems.”

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According to officials, the company produces bare boards, which removes access to critical design features. Lockheed Martin confirmed this, saying that “Exception PCB produces bare circuit boards with no electronics to GE Aviation,” and emphasized that Exception is a “tier three” supplier. This means a component is provided to a sub-contractor before reaching the overarching program itself. In theory, this limits information flow, but there are no particular restrictions just because a supplier is two jumps down from a prime. A mission-critical system could still introduce risk.

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With that in mind, Lockheed Martin told Sky that the boards received from Exception “like all components on the F-35 are inspected repeatedly at each stage of manufacture. Additionally, Exception PCB has no visibility or access to any sensitive program information and there is limited to no risk associated with their minimal role in the program,” adding that, “should Exception PCB be determined an unapproved source in the future” there are “alternate sources of supply.”

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The U.K. MOD said that Exception does not represent any risk to the F-35 supply chain, and there is no suggestion that Exception PCB or Shenzhen Fastprint have done anything wrong.

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Responding to the news, Lockheed Martin said, “we work closely with our industry partners to manage the F-35 Global Supply Chain in accordance with rigorous defense acquisition standards to ensure no parts and components from unapproved sources are included in aircraft production.” GE Aviation added that “Exception PCB – a commonly-used industry supplier – produces bare circuit boards in the UK for GE Aviation and has no visibility to the design or drawing of the F-35 system.”

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A spokesperson for Exception assured Sky that “clear firewalls are in place” between the U.K. company and its Chinese parent. The company has been working with GE Aviation for more than thirty years and “promotes its Chinese ownership.” And as regards this particular defense program, “we produce bare circuit boards only in the U.K. for all of our aerospace and defense companies and have no visibility or access to the design data nor drawings for the boards. All that is supplied from any customer is manufacturing data.” He added that “all data is secured on a separate internal server and access to data is protected by passwords, only accessible by a selected few, of which have been audited by GE.”

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Questions will now be asked around how a supplier into the aerospace and defense industry was acquired by a Chinese company given all the restrictions that exist. Taking stock, this particular news has been waiting for a public outing for years. And it is not an isolated incident. What is clear is that the current geopolitical situation will lead to a hard examination of supply chains across a wide range of industries, with no certainty as to how problems exposed can be fixed without material economic consequences.

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Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation, Exception and the Fastprint Group were approached for additional comments on the story.

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” We are not aware of any other Chinese-owned F-35 providers at this time,” Lockheed Martin said after the U.K.’s Sky Newsreported that” a Chinese-owned business is making circuit boards for the top-secret next-generation F-35 warplanes flown by Britain and the United States.” British MP Bob Seely, who rests on both the Foreign Affairs and Arms Export Controls Committees explained the news as” breath-taking, “alerting that “it’s not a question of is this bad, however how bad is it?” This was echoed by Sir Gerald Howarth, a former U.K. defense minister, who warned that “we have been entirely and utterly ignorant about the function of China and it is just now that people are starting to wake up.”

In reality, though, this discovery has actually been hiding in plain sight. The U.K. business, Exception PCB, was acquired by Shenzhen Fastprint in 2013, “ a company based in China and noted on the Shenzhen Stock Market.” Exception honestly heralds its global parent: “The Fastprint Group of Companies supplies manufacturing sites in the U.K., U.S. and Asia, trading business in the U.K., U.S., Israel, China and main EU Countries,” along with “genuinely international assistance … for all sectors consisting of Aerospace.”

Exception was founded in 1977 and claims online to provide technology to major gamers in the worldwide defense industry, including BAE Systems, QinetiQ, GE Aviation, Leonardo, SAAB and Thales, along with major electronic devices gamers such as ARM, Qualcomm, Motorola, Dyson, Siemens, McLaren, Bosch and Philips. Fastprint invested in Exception PCB in 2013 “as part of a long term strategy and has provided funding to restructure the group over the past four years. The restructure has actually been effective with significant improvement in operational performance on all measures; and as an outcome, the monetary outcomes are improving in line with Fastprint’s expectations.” The business likewise heralds “s ynergy with Fastprint,” delivering “global provider and regional culture.”

With the continuous conflict in between the U.S. and China over the stability and possible risk with electronics and software-related supply chains, this publicity lands at an uncomfortable time and highlights the international nature of supply chains that even reach into the deceptive aerospace and defense market. F-35 promotion claims that “Gloucestershire-based Exception PCB produce the circuit boards that manage a lot of the F-35’s core capabilities … [including] its engines, lighting, fuel and navigation systems.”

According to officials, the business produces bare boards, which gets rid of access to critical style features. Lockheed Martin confirmed this, saying that “Exception PCB produces bare circuit boards without any electronics to GE Aviation,” and highlighted that Exception is a “tier 3” supplier. This suggests a component is supplied to a sub-contractor before reaching the overarching program itself. In theory, this limits details circulation, but there are no specific constraints even if a supplier is 2 dives below a prime. A mission-critical system might still present threat.

With that in mind, Lockheed Martin told Sky that the boards received from Exception” like all components on the F-35are examined consistently at each phase of manufacture. Additionally, Exception PCB has no presence or access to any delicate program information and there is restricted to no danger associated with their very little role in the program,” including that, “should Exception PCB be identified an unapproved source in the future” there are “alternate sources of supply.”

The U.K. MOD stated that Exception does not represent any threat to the F-35 supply chain, and there is no tip that Exception PCB or Shenzhen Fastprint have actually done anything wrong.

Reacting to the news, Lockheed Martin stated, “we work carefully with our industry partners to manage the F-35 International Supply Chain in accordance with rigorous defense acquisition standards to ensure no parts and components from unapproved sources are included in aircraft production.” GE Air travel added that “Exception PCB – a commonly-used industry supplier – produces bare circuit boards in the UK for GE Aviation and has no visibility to the style or illustration of the F-35 system.”

A spokesperson for Exception assured Sky that “clear firewall programs remain in place” in between the U.K. business and its Chinese parent. The business has been dealing with GE Aviation for more than thirty years and “ promotes its Chinese ownership.” And as regards this particular defense program, ” we produce bare circuit boards only in the U.K. for all of our aerospace and defense companies and have no exposure or access to the design information nor drawings for the boards. All that is provided from any consumer is manufacturing data.” He added that “all information is protected on a separate internal server and access to information is safeguarded by passwords, only accessible by a selected few, of which have actually been investigated by GE.”

Questions will now be asked around how a supplier into the aerospace and defense market was gotten by a Chinese company offered all the restrictions that exist. Taking stock, this specific news has been awaiting a public outing for several years. And it is not a separated event. What is clear is that the current geopolitical scenario will result in a tough assessment of supply chains across a wide variety of industries, with no certainty as to how problems exposed can be repaired without material economic repercussions.

Lockheed Martin, GE Air Travel, Exception and the Fastprint Group were approached for extra remarks on the story.

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“We are not conscious of any other Chinese-owned F -35 providers at this time,” Lockheed Martin stated after the U.K.’s Sky News reported that “a Chinese-owned business is making circuit boards for the top-secret next-generation F – 35 warplanes flown by Britain and the United States.
” British MP Bob Seely, who rests on both the Foreign Affairs and Arms Export Controls Committees described the news as “breath-taking,” warning that “it’s not a question of is this bad, however how bad is it?” This was echoed by Sir Gerald Howarth, a previous U.K. defense minister, who alerted that “we have actually been completely and absolutely ignorant about the function of China and it is just now that individuals are starting to wake up.”

In fact, though, this discovery has actually been concealing in plain sight. The U.K. business, Exception PCB , was gotten by Shenzhen Fastprint in 2013,” a business based in China and listed on the Shenzhen Stock Market.” Exception freely heralds its global moms and dad: “The Fastprint Group of Companies supplies making websites in the U.K., U.S. and Asia, trading companies in the U.K., U.S., Israel, China and main EU Countries,” along with “genuinely international support … for all sectors including Aerospace.”

Exception was established in 1977 and declares online to provide innovation to significant players in the global defense industry, consisting of BAE Systems, QinetiQ, GE Aviation, Leonardo, SAAB and Thales, in addition to major electronic devices players such as ARM, Qualcomm, Motorola, Dyson, Siemens, McLaren, Bosch and Philips. Fastprint bought Exception PCB in 2013 “as part of a long term plan and has supplied moneying to reorganize the group over the past 4 years. The restructure has actually succeeded with substantial improvement in functional efficiency on all procedures; and as a result, the financial outcomes are improving in line with Fastprint’s expectations.” The company likewise declares “s ynergy with Fastprint,” providing “international supplier and regional culture.”

With the ongoing conflict between the U.S. and China over the stability and potential danger with electronic devices and software-related supply chains, this promotion lands at an awkward time and highlights the global nature of supply chains that even reach into the deceptive aerospace and defense market. F – 35 promotion declares that “Gloucestershire-based Exception PCB make the circuit boards that manage a number of the F – 35’s core abilities … [including] its engines, lighting, fuel and navigation systems.”

According to officials, the business produces bare boards, which gets rid of access to important style functions. Lockheed Martin validated this, stating that “Exception PCB produces bare circuit boards with no electronics to GE Aviation,” and highlighted that Exception is a “tier 3” provider. This indicates a part is provided to a sub-contractor before reaching the overarching program itself. In theory, this limits information circulation, but there are no specific restrictions even if a supplier is two dives below a prime. A mission-critical system might still present threat.

With that in mind, Lockheed Martin told Sky that the boards received from Exception “like all parts on the F – 35 are checked consistently at each phase of manufacture. In Addition, Exception PCB has no exposure or access to any delicate program information and there is limited to no threat connected with their very little role in the program,” including that, “ought to Exception PCB be figured out an unapproved source in the future” there are “alternate sources of supply.”

The U.K. MOD stated that Exception does not represent any threat to the F – 35 supply chain, and there is no recommendation that Exception PCB or Shenzhen Fastprint have done anything wrong.

Responding to the news, Lockheed Martin said, “we work carefully with our industry partners to manage the F – 35 Global Supply Chain in accordance with extensive defense acquisition requirements to guarantee no parts and components from unapproved sources are consisted of in aircraft production.” GE Air travel included that “Exception PCB – a commonly-used market provider – produces bare circuit boards in the UK for GE Air Travel and has no presence to the style or drawing of the F – 35 system.”

A representative for Exception guaranteed Sky that “clear firewall programs remain in location” between the U.K. company and its Chinese moms and dad. The business has actually been working with GE Air travel for more than thirty years and” promotes its Chinese ownership.” And as regards this specific defense program, “we produce bare circuit boards just in the U.K. for all of our aerospace and defense companies and have no visibility or access to the style information nor drawings for the boards. All that is supplied from any consumer is making information.” He added that “all data is protected on a different internal server and access to information is safeguarded by passwords, only available by a picked couple of, of which have been audited by GE.”

Questions will now be asked around how a supplier into the aerospace and defense industry was gotten by a Chinese business offered all the restrictions that exist. Taking stock, this specific news has been waiting for a public outing for years. And it is not an isolated occurrence. What is clear is that the current geopolitical scenario will cause a difficult examination of supply chains across a large range of markets, with no certainty as to how problems exposed can be fixed without material financial effects.

Lockheed Martin, GE Air Travel, Exception and the Fastprint Group were approached for additional discuss the story.

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About Blair Morris