Crisis overstated

April 1, 2003
The article entitled Crisis!! in the February issue of Military & Aerospace Electronics necessitates a response on my part.

To the editor:

The article entitled Crisis!! in the February issue of Military & Aerospace Electronics necessitates a response on my part. In the opening of the article the author, Mr. David Douthit, states that another colleague and I "are currently traveling around the USA issuing this warning ... COTS parts in service will wear out in three to seven years." I must clarify this misrepresentation of what we have been doing as we have briefed many forums in both industry and government regarding the future "challenges" facing users of microcircuits manufactured from nanometer size technology. These challenges have to be recognized since the vast majority of integrated circuits being designed and manufactured today are for markets other than military and aerospace where some of the harshest applications are encountered. We have not stated nor have we intended to imply there was an impending "CRISIS" looming on the horizon. For almost 10 years the manufacturers of ICs have faced this issue of significantly growing consumer, industrial, and commercial markets for their products while recognizing the steady decline of the need for traditional mil-spec quality level microcircuits. It is therefore only logical that these IC suppliers are focusing their efforts on the significantly larger markets of opportunity. Consequently the OEM users and their end customers of ICs required for hi-rel or critical military applications are facing the challenges of using 'available ICs' in applications for which they were not specifically designed. Extensive engineering efforts by these 'users' have resulted in continued high levels of reliable service of end systems. Now, it is becoming clear that further such engineering efforts coupled with knowledge which only the original IC manufacturer can provide will be essential for continued performance in all applications. It is in this quest for the adequate knowledge and with the cooperation of IC manufacturers that we are briefing and educating the users of microcircuits. We believe such communication is not only relevant and appropriate, but will also pave the way for avoiding unforeseen difficulties.

Joe Chapman,
Representative U.S. Defense
Standardization Office
Midland, Texas

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