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USAF F-16 pilot dies possibly due to counterfeit parts in his ejector seat

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USAF F-16 pilot dies possibly due to counterfeit parts in his ejector seat

Old 15th Sep 2022, 10:20
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USAF F-16 pilot dies possibly due to counterfeit parts in his ejector seat

Tragic...

According to Air Force Research Laboratory slides dated Aug. 3, 2020, however, the service suspected that several transistors and microchips inside the sequencer were fake. Valerie’s legal team obtained the slides through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Six transistors “had no conformal coating, were heavily gouged, had arcing scratch marks, were considered obsolete and were suspected of being counterfeit,” the complaint said. A capacitor that may have been damaged while it was handled was “partially dislodged.”

Suppliers Atmel, Analog Devices and Siliconix provided the potentially counterfeit transistors, memory chips and accelerometer chip, according to the Air Force slides.
https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/y...t-counterfeit/
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Old 15th Sep 2022, 12:47
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Unfortunately the UK has been there before. Conformal coating and arcing - BOWMAN Li-Ion batteries. Capacitors not fitted correctly - Chinook ZD576. (Safety critical) components heavily gouged - Chinook ZA721.
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Old 15th Sep 2022, 13:53
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tecumseh,
when we did the HEART job there were great fears of counterfeit parts ending up in the C130K. It was thought that with the loss of so many original manufacturers for the a/c this was a real possibility. However my engineering counterparts on the team did not find any evidence of such parts. But as the archeologists say 'Absence of evidence in not evidence of absence.'.
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Old 15th Sep 2022, 15:48
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AA62

I remember the equipment your report (correctly) stated was the main airworthiness concern on C-130. AMSO had ordered all spares to be scrapped, and Lyneham were forced to attempt Depth C/D when they were only scaled for Depth A/B. Our concern was where they were getting spares from, how they were certified, and ultimately tested and declared serviceable without pubs or test equipment. It wasn't so much a suspicion of counterfeit, but that they'd been forced to attempt repairs beyond their capability. This proved the case, with (e.g.) severe cracking in radar gearboxes. And still AMSO refused to do anything. Eventually your luck runs out.... (When I say AMSO, I mean DGSM and above. Air Cdre and below were appalled).
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Old 15th Sep 2022, 17:01
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You would be surprised what turns up, the fan blades of the burnt out BA 747 in Kuwait turned up for sale after they had supposedly been scrapped by a BA rep in country, it only came to light when a company looking at buying them contacted BA to get more information about them.
I myself was looking at trying to source some hard to get parts some time ago that were being sold for an undercarriage and they even had the reg of the aircraft on the paperwork they were removed from, doing a simple search I found pictures of the torn off aircraft wing, upside down and smashed to heck, having landed on a road smacked several curbs, gone through a hedge, hit a tree, was torn off the aircraft and flipped into a carpark with the leg miraculously still intact and pointing skywards, the rest of the aircraft was a semi burnt out wreck. needless to say I bought new parts and accepted the delay in getting them.

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-...234-story.html
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Old 15th Sep 2022, 18:14
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Thanks Nutloose. Very interesting.

I recall an aircraft programme in the 90s. A 13 aircraft fleet, and the IFF fit policy was Full Fleet Fit. That is, 13, plus hot rigs, reference rigs, deployed spares, sim, etc. At least 24 required to meet the policy, and there would have been no argument had that number been sought, at £330k a pop. The Service said 10 will do, and that's what funding the IFF office was given. The inevitable complaints about lack of support came in, but what amazed me was how quickly a company in the US sent across a rep offering me 4 'second-hand' systems immediately, for a 10th of the new cost. Obviously tracking what was being bought and, impressively, how many we SHOULD have been buying. (Which the Service obviously couldn't calculate, although to be fair they'd got rid of the posts who knew how to work an abacus). Asked for provenance, etc., he walked away. I also found it interesting that his credentials got him through MoD security and he was given unaccompanied access to the site.
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Old 15th Sep 2022, 23:19
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This was one I remember that was scary, the Hiller helicopter rotor blades are the same as Bell 47 items but shorter and a lot cheaper, someone was butt welding extensions onto them and passing them off as Bell 47 ones, that’s over 12 1/2 inches!

https://www.casa.gov.au/content-sear...n-rotor-blades
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Old 16th Sep 2022, 02:53
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No one checking that filing?
"The USAF set the DRS’s system reliability requirement at 0.999%"
I would hope that percent symbol is a typo.

It's really unclear from the indicated events what the f' happened to that board. The main argument seems to be that the circuit board had several components removed in crude fashion and then replaced with counterfeits after the crash. If so, then it's not possible to prove the original components in place during the accident/crash were counterfeits. It certainly seems that whatever was done was of such a level of incompetency that one must assume the original configuration was not fit for purpose.

If one is interested in such things, Ken Shirriff has a web site dedicated to identifying and reverse engineering microchips and older circuits and sometimes discovering counterfeits. The fact that this sort of investigation isn't mentioned for the crash unit is perplexing, especially in view of the suggestion there was tampering and counterfeiting. See https://www.righto.com/

The main problem from electrical component counterfeits is old designs that are qualified with certain components. To be known to be reliable for the task a chip is typically on the market for some time, but often this positions them close to end of life, This runs up against a 20-30 year support life requirement and if the board maker doesn't manage a life-time-buy for all the parts they might ever need they start to get pushed to the open market. Not too bad at 1-5 years, but come 10-20 years and the rate at which antiques are available gets spotty. Worse, when the order for a long-obsolete component goes out it's clear that there is no available substitute and the buyer will spend whatever is necessary short of being a full-redesign and qualification. Enter the pirates. They will sand off markings and apply new ones, sometimes to compatible chips; sometimes to completely different functions.

Again - the complaint is missing significant details to determine any of this but, were I to be looking, the age and the end-of-life production status would be among the first questions I'd ask.
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Old 17th Sep 2022, 07:07
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https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/y...s-few-details/

Air Force discloses procurement fraud probe, provides few details

The Air Force has been quietly investigating potential procurement fraud for nearly two years, service officials revealed Friday.

The Office of Special Investigations opened its probe in January 2021, spokesperson Linda Card told Air Force Times. She declined to provide details on the scope of the case or whether fraudulent products were used in military aircraft.

“This investigation is still open and ongoing,” Card said. “Complex fraud investigations like this one generally take a very long time to conclude.”

The news comes on the heels of a federal civil lawsuit in South Carolina District Court that argues defense companies Lockheed Martin, Collins Aerospace and Teledyne Technologies may have installed counterfeit electronic components on an ejection seat that malfunctioned during a fatal fighter jet crash in 2020.……


From 2013 to 2017, the federal government recovered more than $6.6 billion from defense contracting fraud cases, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Last year, a GAO report on shortcomings in the Pentagon’s efforts to combat fraud noted that the Air Force did not adequately track procurement fraud as required in periodic risk assessments.

More than two dozen military organizations, including the Air Force, had not chosen representatives to sit on a newly created fraud-reduction task force, the report added…….
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Old 17th Sep 2022, 07:26
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Originally Posted by NutLoose View Post
....that’s over 12 1/2 inches!
I've heard that before somewhere.........NOT!
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Old 17th Sep 2022, 18:40
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Originally Posted by ancientaviator62 View Post
tecumseh,
when we did the HEART job there were great fears of counterfeit parts ending up in the C130K. It was thought that with the loss of so many original manufacturers for the a/c this was a real possibility. However my engineering counterparts on the team did not find any evidence of such parts. But as the archeologists say 'Absence of evidence in not evidence of absence.'.
C-130K fleet was widely fitted with counterfeit main undercarriage parts in the late-'90s. They were not even the same shape as the originals, let alone the same material. Sometime later the C-130K fleet was widely fitted with now broken or completely failed main undercarriages, usually taking the tracks with them. Emergency drills were also widely carried out, even after the counterfeit parts were discovered, as the fleet carried on flying with the bogus parts...
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Old 17th Sep 2022, 19:09
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Yeah, but I bet the parts came in on budget and on time.

Flippant as that may seem, it is literally all that matters to some in business, which is what gets a safety critical organisation to this place. I can't even talk about material quality and sourcing issues.
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Old 18th Sep 2022, 08:07
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Once it dawned on 'the system' that the 'J' was going to be very late into service there was a scramble to resume the parts flow (and engineer and navigator availability) for the 'K' as it had to run on way past the OSD. So I assume it was inevitable that fraudsters would take advantage of this opportunity. I understand many parts of the blown up BA 747 in Kuwait appeared on the spares market.
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Old 18th Sep 2022, 12:22
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Originally Posted by Just This Once... View Post
C-130K fleet was widely fitted with counterfeit main undercarriage parts in the late-'90s. They were not even the same shape as the originals, let alone the same material. Sometime later the C-130K fleet was widely fitted with now broken or completely failed main undercarriages, usually taking the tracks with them. Emergency drills were also widely carried out, even after the counterfeit parts were discovered, as the fleet carried on flying with the bogus parts...
I don't doubt this in any way.

But I do have knowledge of what happened after AMSO took control of the entire support budget around 1990, allowing suppliers to self-delegate engineering decisions and technical/financial approvals.

Our Quality Assurance oversight of suppliers' Quality Control process (if they even had one) was largely ditched, as were our DGDQA staff. Companies would bid for a job (e.g. an undercarriage part) and be awarded the contract. Then they'd ask the supplier 'Can we have the drawings to see what we're meant to be making?'. At which point the supplier would topple, as they'd run down the contracts that supplied and maintained certified copies of drawings that were meant to be have been issued with the tender pack. Contract delayed, and front line forced to rob and grant concessions.

A common problem was the drawings would call up an expensive special process. Vacuum Cadmium plating was a common one, usually requiring specialised heat treatment, which in the 90s few companies had the wherewithal to do. (In fact, one MoD workshop had the largest facility in western Europe, earning a small fortune in repayment work). The company would do something cheap and quick like Dalic plate it, and sign it off. With no MoD QA rep in sight. Meeting fine tolerances was another issue. Irregular shapes not milled correctly. And so on. Not 'counterfeit' as such, but definitely not to spec and unfit for purpose. Unwitting 18-year old suppliers would simply accept this, and no subsequent investigation would even think of looking at their actions.

Meanwhile MoD's engineers tore their hair out. My extravagant centre-parting became worse at just this time.


JTO - Something you definitely wouldn't have seen was a Director Internal Audit report, completed in June 1996. It had been commissioned by the engineers who had been threatened with the sack for complaining about this new AMSO policy and practice. It was marked No Further Action, buried, and finally destroyed. But only the original and AMSO/AML copies. Those who commissioned it retained theirs. Still got mine. This was by no means a one-off. At the time DIA were inundated and had to be selective about which cases to investigate. To avoid an even greater workload, and embarrassment, cases of blatant fraud were often marked 'Admin error' and MoD would accept credit notes against the next contract. That there shouldn't have been a next contact was ignored.
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Old 18th Sep 2022, 12:51
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Similar, horrendous, example.

https://globalnews.ca/news/9112283/e...al-report/amp/
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Old 22nd Sep 2022, 03:16
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Originally Posted by NutLoose View Post
You would be surprised what turns up, the fan blades of the burnt out BA 747 in Kuwait turned up for sale after they had supposedly been scrapped by a BA rep in country, it only came to light when a company looking at buying them contacted BA to get more information about them.
I myself was looking at trying to source some hard to get parts some time ago that were being sold for an undercarriage and they even had the reg of the aircraft on the paperwork they were removed from, doing a simple search I found pictures of the torn off aircraft wing, upside down and smashed to heck, having landed on a road smacked several curbs, gone through a hedge, hit a tree, was torn off the aircraft and flipped into a carpark with the leg miraculously still intact and pointing skywards, the rest of the aircraft was a semi burnt out wreck. needless to say I bought new parts and accepted the delay in getting them.

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-...234-story.html

reminds me of a guy who bought a NLG for a C-210, fresh from O/H, turned up and still had the soot on it from the crash it was in. Still, no problem, it had an 8130-3, so what could possibly be wrong with that!
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Old 22nd Sep 2022, 14:19
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Devil Radical approach required?

Originally Posted by ORAC View Post
https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/y...s-few-details/

Air Force discloses procurement fraud probe, provides few details

The Air Force has been quietly investigating potential procurement fraud for nearly two years, service officials revealed Friday.

The Office of Special Investigations opened its probe in January 2021, spokesperson Linda Card told Air Force Times. She declined to provide details on the scope of the case or whether fraudulent products were used in military aircraft.

“This investigation is still open and ongoing,” Card said. “Complex fraud investigations like this one generally take a very long time to conclude.”

The news comes on the heels of a federal civil lawsuit in South Carolina District Court that argues defense companies Lockheed Martin, Collins Aerospace and Teledyne Technologies may have installed counterfeit electronic components on an ejection seat that malfunctioned during a fatal fighter jet crash in 2020.……


From 2013 to 2017, the federal government recovered more than $6.6 billion from defense contracting fraud cases, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Last year, a GAO report on shortcomings in the Pentagon’s efforts to combat fraud noted that the Air Force did not adequately track procurement fraud as required in periodic risk assessments.

More than two dozen military organizations, including the Air Force, had not chosen representatives to sit on a newly created fraud-reduction task force, the report added…….
Perhaps the investigators could call in the U.K. H&SE chaps? After all they are experts in ejection seat technology…..and they will do exactly what the DoD tells them to do. Allegedly.
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Old 22nd Sep 2022, 23:14
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Just out of interest, has anyone ever done, or heard of a first ever tanking trip being done at night? Sounds a bit nuts.
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Old 23rd Sep 2022, 03:29
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Originally Posted by blimey View Post
Just out of interest, has anyone ever done, or heard of a first ever tanking trip being done at night? Sounds a bit nuts.
Somewhere there is the official accident report (perhaps on another thread here - I have it somewhere) meanwhile this overview will give you some idea of the then training environment and reason for first night air refuel & SEAD (not to be repeated forthwith say powers that be).

https://www.military.com/daily-news/...ning-gaps.html
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https://www.airforcemag.com/pilot-er...al-f-16-crash/ "...In addition, Kelly [ACC[ Air Combat Command] commander Gen. Mark D. Kelly] noted that Air Force instructions require pilots to successfully demonstrate proficiency in aerial refueling during the day before attempting it at night...."
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Official USAF Accident Report: https://www.airforcemag.com/app/uplo...aw-AFB-ACC.pdf (3.8Mb)
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