Chem-Bio office works on supply chain issues

Chem-Bio office works on supply chain issues

Illustration from iStock

The pandemic-fueled supply chain crisis that has rocked industries across the country is also affecting a key Pentagon office tasked with countering biological threats, limiting its ability to develop critical technologies if needed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light several challenges, including the ability to obtain important components and parts for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense technologies, said Col. Chris Hoffman, senior program manager of chemical and biological defense of the Pentagon.

“This is a very small community with … a limited amount of manufacturing focused on producing our products, which inherently creates challenges in our ability to scale and meet increases in demand,” he said. he said at an online event hosted by National Defense. Industry association.

A recent survey conducted by the program’s analytics office found that 57% of manufacturers the organization relies on pose at least medium risk of addressing supply chain challenges and vulnerabilities.

A major area of ​​concern is semiconductor manufacturing, Hoffman noted. Semiconductors are the foundation of advanced technologies that both ordinary citizens and military officials rely on. A global shortage amid unprecedented demand during the pandemic for electronic devices has created a major supply chain problem.

While the United States is a leader in semiconductor design, in recent decades microelectronics manufacturing and production has shifted overseas.

The semiconductor shortage has had a direct impact on the CBRN defense office, forcing officials to delay testing and commissioning some of its systems, Hoffman said.

For example, the nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance vehicle sensor suite upgrade program has experienced delays.

“We had a change as well as some software challenges that caused us to deliberately drag out testing because we couldn’t get the two prototypes built in order to test. [them] because essential supplies were not available,” he said.

The Office of Chemical and Biological Defense plans to work with industry to better identify gaps in the pipeline to mitigate future problems, Hoffman said. It has already begun making targeted investments in certain technologies to ensure it has the parts and supplies needed to run the programs.

Topics: CBRN

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