Military Embedded Systems

Bringing microelectronics manufacturing to U.S. goal of Pentagon

News

August 21, 2020

Emma Helfrich

Associate Editor

Military Embedded Systems

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WASHINGTON. The U.S. government aims to entice companies to do more microelectronics manufacturing in the United States, the Pentagon's undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment said Thursday.

During a prerecorded chat at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Electronics Resurgence Initiative summit, Ellen Lord said the fact that most microelectronics are manufactured offshore could present a problem for national security.

"We can no longer clearly identify the pedigree of our microelectronics," which are key to technologies like 5G as well as components in many weapons systems, Lord said. "Therefore, we can no longer ensure that backdoors, malicious code, or data exfiltration commands aren't embedded in our code."

The United States is one of three countries that has microelectronics manufacturing capabilities, but according to a 2016 report from the Congressional Research Service, American microelectronics manufacturers have increasingly moved microchip fabrication plants abroad. Lord listed several reasons for the manufacturing shift: governmental policies and regulations, environmental constraints, safety constraints, wages, and taxes.

Lord said the United States must find a path to domestic sources for microelectronics that are used in weapons systems now, and for those needed for future use — and suggested creating public-private partnerships to bring microelectronics manufacturing back to domestic facilities.

 

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