Captured Russian weapons are filled with American microchips

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When Ukrainian forces began dismantling several pieces of captured or partially destroyed Russian military equipment, they found a heavy reliance on foreign microchips – especially those made in the United States – according to component lists shared by Ukrainian intelligence services. The war zone.

The chips in question were found inside a salvaged example of 9S932-1, a radar-equipped air defense command post vehicle that is part of the larger Barnaul-T system, a defense system Pantsir aircraft, a Ka-52 “Alligator” attack helicopter and a Kh-101 (AS-23A Kodiak) cruise missile.

The component list offers some of the most detailed information yet on how well Russians are getting microchips, semiconductors and other critical components. The items on these lists raise serious questions about Russia’s ability to produce the technological components on which its war machine relies and the ability of countries like the United States to keep those technologies secure, an expert has said. . The war zone.

In the Barnaul-T air defense command post vehicle, for example, Ukrainian intelligence said its specialists found eight microchips from American manufacturers like Intel, Microl, Micron Technology and Atmel Corp.. in its communication systems.

Ukrainian specialists also found five US-made chips – manufactured by AMD, Rochester Electronics, Texas Instrumentsand Linear technology – in the direction finder of a Pantsir air defense system.

There were at least 35 US-made chips found in the Kh-101 cruise missile, including those made by Texas Instruments, Atmel Corp. Rochester Electronics, Semiconductor cypress, Maxim integrated, XILINX, Infineon TechnologiesIntel, Onsemiand Micron technology.

Kh-101 on a Tu-95 Bear., CSIS.org

When opening the Ka-52 Alligator’s turret electro-optical system, Ukrainian specialists found 22 US-made chips and one Korean-made chip. American manufacturers included Texas Instruments, IDT, United States, Burr-Brown, Analog Devices Inc., Micron Technology, Linear Technology and TE connectivity.

A man stands in front of a Ka-52 attack helicopter forced to land in a field outside Kyiv, Ukraine, February 24, 2022. AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

While the United States and several other countries instituted sanctions after Russia launched its all-out invasion on February 24, which prevented them from selling them equipment, including microchips, there is no indication that the one of the chips in these captured or destroyed Russian assets has violated any of these provisions. . In fact, some of the manufacturers were previously subsumed by other companies.

IDT, for example, was acquired by the Japanese firm Renesas in 2019. Micrel was purchased by Microchip Technology Incorporated in 2015. Atmel Corp. was also purchased by Microchip Technology, in 2016. Cypress Semiconductor Corp. was acquired by Infineon Technologies in 2020. Altera was purchased by Intel in 2015. Burr-Brown was purchased by Texas Instruments in 2000.

The origin of the microchips found in these Russian weapons is unclear. These chips would not necessarily have had to come directly from the manufacturers. In addition, there is a massive and largely unregulated market for recycled chips, largely emanating from from Chinaand many of them seem quite old.

Ukrainian intelligence officials who provided the list of components also could not say where the chips came from.

But Skip Parish, a counter-drone/directed energy weapons/electronic warfare/red team expert for NATO and the US military, reviewed the list of components provided by Ukrainian intelligence and said they raised a number of issues.

A photo of some of the Ukrainian intelligence microchips said they were found in the communication system of a Barnaul-T air defense system. Photo of the Ukrainian intelligence services.

This highlights, he said, a “complete reliance on Western technology” in the applications of “chipsets embedded in key sensitive parts of Russian weapons systems – targeting, navigation, communications and execution of the weapon”.

It also shows the “failed or non-existent US checks” in International Traffic in Arms Regulations“both supporting investigations when found in alien weapons.”

On May 11, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a Senate hearing that the sanctions against Russia forced it to seek other sources of key components.

“We have reports from Ukrainians that when they find Russian military hardware on the ground, it is full of semiconductors they took out of dishwashers and refrigerators,” he added. Raimondo testifiedwho recently met with the Ukrainian Prime Minister.

While components found in devices, for example, are harder to keep from falling into the wrong hands, U.S. officials, Parish said, have the power to stop shipments of these dual-use chips if they deem that the application has critical military uses.

And, he said, it highlights and offers the need “for a clear path to stop Russian weapons success without being there, and” for an emergency national program to stop technology shipments. “of American allies Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States Kingdom, collectively known as “Five Eyes.”

While Raimondo testified that Ukraine said the Russians used parts of devices in its tanks, that’s likely not the case in the more sensitive systems put in place by Ukrainian intelligence, Parish said. .

“The optics of the Ka-52 armed helicopter targeting and missile guidance systems,” he said, “are of utmost concern.”

The war zone has contacted all of the microchip makers named in this story and several have responded. Most said they no longer do business with Russia. Many said they don’t know or can’t control where their tokens end up. And one company disputed Ukrainian intelligence’s claim that its chips were found in Russian military equipment.

A spokeswoman for Onsemi, for example, pointed out that her company’s chips are not military-grade and therefore readily available.

Stefanie Cuene, public relations manager at onsemi, said her company’s chip “is commodity, not military grade and available anywhere on the open market.”

“We have already viewed the war in Ukraine with great concern,” said Infineon Technologies spokesman Gregor Rodehüser. The war zone. “Your post deepens these concerns.”

“While we cannot comment specifically on the matter, Infineon has put in place appropriate measures to ensure compliance with the sanctions.”

After the start of the war in Ukraine, he said, “we stopped all direct and indirect shipments to Russia, Belarus and the respective Russian-backed regions in Ukraine. This also includes technical support.

Infineon Technologies, Rodehüser said, has yet to “find evidence of military use of our products in Russia. We therefore screen the customers and markets that source our products to ensure that they comply with legal export regulations. »

Severe sanctions, including a ban on the importance of microchips, were imposed on Russia after Vladimir Putin launched his all-out war against Ukraine. Getty Images.

Intel said that while they couldn’t find out where their chips were, they no longer do business with Russia or Belarus.

“While we do not always know and cannot control the products our customers create or the applications end users may develop, Intel does not support or condone our products being used to violate copyright man,” said Penny Bruce, Intel’s director of corporate communications. . “When we become aware of a concern that Intel products are being used by a business partner in human rights abuses, we will restrict or cease our activities with the third party until we are satisfied that Intel products are not used to violate human rights”.

Intel, Bruce said, “has suspended all customer deliveries within two Russia and Belarus.” Additionally, “Intel will continue to comply with all applicable export regulations and sanctions in the countries in which it operates; this includes compliance with sanctions and export controls against Russia and Belarus issued by the United States and allied countries.

Analog Devices “is committed to full compliance with U.S., EU and other country laws, including export controls, trade sanctions and regulations,” said company spokeswoman Ferda Millan.

TE Connectivity, meanwhile, challenged the list of Ukrainian intelligence components.

“We searched our parts database and were unable to find a match to the part number you provided,” said Jeff Cronin, a company spokesperson.

The issue of foreign components ending up in Russian military equipment despite sanctions has already been raised.

After Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014, it was hit with a previous round of sanctions.

These, however, apparently did not prove to be infallible.

It’s unclear how concerned the Commerce Department might be about Ukrainian microchips that Ukrainian intelligence says have been found on Russian air defense systems, helicopters and cruise missiles.

The ministry did not respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon. We’ll let you know what they say if they respond.

There is already plenty of evidence that the existing sanctions are hurting the Russian defense industry. And Ukraine says the older components Russia uses, especially in the Kh-101, make them less effective. But given Russia’s dependence on the large number of microchips, semiconductors and other components in circulation – and its close relationship with China, one of the main manufacturers and recyclers of these parts – the long-term effects of the sanctions, at least when it comes to high-tech components like chips, remains to be seen.

The same goes for the reaction of the United States to the chips they use

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