DNA Marking Capability

The Defense Logistics Agency is insourcing its efforts to make it easier to detect and prevent counterfeit microcircuits from entering into its supply chain.

The Defense Logistics Agency is insourcing its efforts to make it easier to detect and prevent counterfeit microcircuits from entering into its supply chain. (Photo provided by the Defense Logistics Agency/Courtesy Photo)

The Defense Logistics Agency is insourcing its efforts to make it easier to detect and prevent counterfeit microcircuits from entering into its supply chain. (Photo provided by the Defense Logistics Agency/Courtesy Photo)

The agency started performing an in-house microcircuit anti-counterfeit initiative, dubbed DNA marking. The capability is designed to validate the authenticity of purchased microcircuits while increasing their reliability throughout the supply chain. The new quality control measures will be conducted at DLA’s Electronics Product Test Center at DLA Land and Maritime.

“Microcircuits are integrated in many of the weapon systems operated by our military services, so securing dependable suppliers is crucial to sustaining our elite mission-ready forces,” said DLA Land and Maritime Commander Navy Rear Adm. John King.

“Adopting this DNA marking capability will enable DLA to intensify its fight against counterfeit parts entering and negatively impacting our supply chain, and ultimately our customers.”

Prior to insourcing this capability, the agency relied on industry partners to carry out the DNA marking process, said Keith Robinette, director of the DLA Product Test Center. This was effective in deterring counterfeiters, but added more time to the delivery of microcircuits to customers and additional costs to DLA.

“By establishing an organic or in-house DNA marking capability, DLA will improve delivery time and reduce costs, strengthen supply chain controls, enhance quality assurance and establish the capability to expand DNA marking to other parts deemed a high risk of counterfeiting,” Robinette said.

“Placing DNA marking at the Electronics Product Test Center is a perfect fit. The center performs a variety of tests to ensure that electronic items procured by DLA meet warfighter demands and quality requirements. DNA marking will augment this capability.”

The test center will mark all microcircuits purchased by DLA in Federal Supply Class 5962, electronic microcircuits, with an anti-counterfeit technology, which is derived from botanical DNA. It is anticipated that about 85,000 microcircuits will be marked per year, Robinette said.

DNA marking consists of applying a botanical DNA identifier to the surface of a microcircuit to authenticate originality, Robinette said. A unique code or finger print, which deters counterfeiters, is incorporated into the ink of the DNA mark. This code can’t be replicated, re-engineered or digitally copied. The DNA mark can be detected by a hand-held scanner for easy identification within the supply chain.

The DNA mark can also be swabbed for forensic testing, which provides detailed information about the microcircuit, such as supplier, cage code, and part and lot number. Additional information like contract data, award date, number, national stock number, quantity and time the microcircuit entered into DLA’s supply chain can also be retrieved.

The DNA mark carries this authentication information throughout the life of the microcircuit and has the capability to trace and audit the movement of the microcircuit from receipt into DLA’s supply chain to the end user. This traceability benefit is crucial during quality and fraud investigations, Robinette said.

During past investigations, it was often difficult to obtain supplier information once the microcircuit was taken out of its packaging and installed on a weapon system or placed into bins at military repair facilities.

Story and information provided by the Defense Logistics Agency
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