The Times of IndiaDid IAF’s 'US-made' C-130J Super Hercules that crashed have fake Chinese parts?
Chidanand Rajghatta,TNN | Mar 30, 2014, 09.44 PM IST
WASHINGTON: India's newly-acquired American C-130J Super Hercules plane that crashed last week near Gwalior has been under intense scrutiny in the United States and Canada after a Senate investigation concluded that counterfeit parts in the aircraft's display systems could cause it to "lose data or even go blank altogether" in midflight, with potentially catastrophic consequences.
A 2011-2012 investigation by the US Senate armed services committee eventually traced the counterfeit electronic parts used in the C-130J, C-27J, and many other US military systems to a company in Shenzhen, China, called Hong Dark Electronic Trade Company. Hong Dark sold the parts at issue to Global IC Trading Group, an independent distributor in the US, which in turn sold it to L-3 Communications Display Systems, which in turn supplied it to Lockheed Martin, the US military's prime contractor for the C-130J.
Amid scathing observations by the Senate panel, the US air force suspended and banned Hong Dark in 2012 from competing for government contracts and subcontracts, but testimony before the armed services committee showed stunning lapses in the supply chain and procurement procedures for the military systems, including the C-130J Super Hercules, six of which New Delhi contracted to buy in 2010 for $1.1 billion, around Rs 1000 crores apiece.
India has plans to buys six more to augment its transport fleet with the much-acclaimed aircraft, which has won plaudits for its safety record and its versatility. The acquisition enables the Indian military to put boots and supplies on the ground in remote and inhospitable terrain, giving it matchless reach in the region.
However, the aircraft display systems itself will now come under scrutiny — if it already hadn't been under the scanner — although the cause of the Gwalior crash is yet to be determined. The US Senate committee report is withering in its observations not only about US procurement and supply chain system, but also the casual manner in which private contractors treated the issue once the counterfeit parts were detected.
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