This created a lucrative industry for counterfeiters to “recycle” parts from scrap commercial electronics and reprocess them to fulfill worldwide requests for diminishing supply or high reliability semiconductors. To make the situation worse, for years many defense hardware manufacturers of subsystems did not have standards to purchase semiconductors. The Counterfeit problem was finally addressed by Congress in 2013 with “HR1960 SEC 812, AMENDMENTS RELATING TO DETECTION AND AVOIDANCE OF COUNTERFEIT ELECTRONIC PARTS”. Many of the “suspect” parts are used in mission critical systems in manned and unmanned programs. As of this date there is still no global standard for the verification of counterfeit semiconductors.
Over the past 20 years, counterfeiters have been taking advantage of the unaccounted traceability and sourcing of COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) components by remarking substandard parts of similar form, fit and function then selling them to the high reliability market. Due to the acceptance of COTS, Plastic Encapsulated Microcircuits (PEMs) were introduced to the aerospace, military and space industry worldwide. Since the variations of plastic are many and the marking was not controlled, it was not difficult to find plastic parts of similar package, number of leads and even similar function to remark and sell for a much higher price.