The microchip failures – which some sections of the military saw as deliberate sabotage – started a chain of events which triggered the US ban on Chinese tech giants Huawei, the authors of a shocking new book reveal. The allegations are levelled in Kashmir’s Untold Story: Declassified, a book by Iqbal Malhotra and Maroof Raza which looks at the history of the dispute between India and Pakistan over the troubled region.
One section of the book, which examines China’s close allegiance with Pakistan, considers the subject of China’s increasingly dominance when it comes to the production of microchip technology.
The book refers to separate incidents which occurred within two days of each other in 2016.
Firstly, on November 21, the $4.4billion guided missile destroyer USS Zumwalt suffered the propulsion failure while passing through the Panama Canal, and had to be towed to safety.
The reasons identified for this failure have been identified as what is called Chinese ‘chip destroyers’
Iqbal Malhotra and Maroof Raza
Secondly, on November 23, HMS Duncan suffered a similar problem while on NATO manoeuvres. HMS Duncan is the Navy’s cutting edge Type 45 Air Defence Destroyer which can house 230 sailors handling a fearsome array of weaponry including the Harpoon missile system.
The authors write: “The reasons identified for this failure have been identified as what is called Chinese ‘chip destroyers’ – which are a type of microchip manufactured by the Chinese PLA, that the US Navy was forced to buy by the tens-of-thousands as a cost cutting exercise.”
The book explains the US Department of Defence’s critical electronic components are sourced from Taiwan, Japan and the US, and are supposed to be built in accordance with rigorous military specifications to handle a nuclear environment.
However, as a result of the US losing its “superconductor supremacy”, companies have increasingly been outsourcing from third parties supplying low-cost chips from mainland China.
The authors add: “When forensic technicians were deployed to back-engineer the faults on the USS Zumwalt, they found that all of the microchips received from a particular manufacturer had the same flaw.”
All had civilian wiring “equivalent to a 3-amp fuse”, meaning if they were subjected to a burst of energy known as an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), components will fail.
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Mr Malhotra and Mr Raza added: “If this happens during a war or conflict, there will be no replacements easily available.
“All the spares warehoused on a ship or ashore will also get roasted by the same invisible pulse or EMP.
“There are so may embedded semiconductors wired on a nanoscale that to rectify them, each one would have to be inspected and re-certified at test centres equipped with specialist equipment, which is an impossibility.”
The authors stop short of accusing China of a coordinated effort to damage the ships but add: “It has been proven as a consequence of the mishaps in these two ships that the Chinese microchips reportedly also have backdoors installed for easy hacking.
“To compound issues, even the drydock used to build the Zumwalt at the Bath Iron Works in Maine is a Chinese-made drydock.
“A cooperation agreement signed in 2014 between the US Navy and Royal Navy may have further allowed these dangerous devices to be placed in Britain’s other warships, weapons and communication systems.”
The subsequent investigations had led to the blacklisting of Huawei, currently at the centre of a wrangle between the US and the UK over Britain’s decision to allow the company to supply 5G network technology.
The authors write: “In August 2018, President Trump signed the National Defence Authorisation Act for fiscal year 2019, which bars all US Federal Agencies from, among other things, purchasing equipment or services from Chinese companies like Huawei, ZTE and others, and from contracting with any entity that uses equipment or services provided by these companies as a substantial or essential component of any system.”
Express.co.uk has asked the MoD to comment on the allegations in the book.
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