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Onshoring Chipmaking Will Not Solve All Supply Chain Issues, Former Defense Official Says

Semiconductor industry

Onshoring Chipmaking Will Not Solve All Supply Chain Issues, Former Defense Official Says

The Department of Defense should adopt an approach similar to zero trust in protecting its microelectronics supply chain, according to a former agency official and speaker at a past Potomac Officers Club event.

Lisa Porter, former deputy undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, told lawmakers that onshoring the production of semiconductors is not an instant solution to weaknesses in the supply chain, Nextgov reported Tuesday.

“If you think you’re going to build something onshore and therefore make it safe just because it’s onshore with a nice barrier to entry, you’re already creating a vulnerability,” Porter told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research Subcommittee.

The majority of processors, including the most advanced ones with the smallest process nodes, are manufactured by a couple of chipmaking giants in Asia: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and South Korea’s Samsung.

U.S. defense and business leaders such as Intel’s new CEO, Pat Gelsinger, have raised concerns over the concentration of the supply chain of the “world’s most critical technology” in Asia, BBC News reported.

In late June, the Air Force awarded KBR a $194 million contract to conduct research, development, testing and analysis on the design and fabrication of military microelectronics.

Byron Bright, president of KBR’s government solutions division and a two-time Wash100 winner, said the contract is aimed at addressing the Pentagon’s waning access to trusted microelectronics. 

He said the military will continue relying on commercial microelectronics providers, driving the need to have better methods for establishing trust and assurance.

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Tags: BBC News Byron Bright CNBC Department of Defense House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence KBR Lisa Porter microelectronics Nextgov Samsung semiconductor Speaker News supply chain TSMC Wash100 zero trust