Washington legislators have re-awakened to concerns over the Defense Department’s inability to plan for and deal with what is now the final stage in the shift of American microelectronics production offshore. Congress wants the Pentagon to figure out how it is going to deal with issues associated with purchasing “trusted” electronics for military weapons and national security surveillance systems from foreign and foreign-owned producers.
[Richard McCormack| May 31, 2016 |Manufacturing & Technology News]
Within the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017 (HR-4909), which passed in the House of Representatives on May 18, Congress directs the federal government to figure out how it can buy “trusted” semiconductors from foreign producers, now that the ownership of its most important source of leading-edge microelectronics has been sold by IBM to a foreign company.
The House Armed Services Committee report accompanying the authorization bill (Report 114-537) states that Congress “remains concerned with the Department of Defense’s ability to ensure access to cutting-edge microelectronics with the requisite level of verifiable trust incorporated” into those semiconductors and circuits.
Since 2004, under a 10-year contract that was valued initially at more than $600 million, IBM provided DOD and the National Security Agency with output from its “Trusted Foundry” fabs in East Fishkill, N.Y., and Burlington, Vt. IBM produced small runs of specialized chips that could be used with confidence throughout the military and national security complex. But last July, IBM finalized sale of its semiconductor business to Global Foundries, a company owned by the Emirates of Abu Dhabi. Included in the transaction was IBM’s federally supported Trusted Foundry.