Aishwarya Rakesh
Tuesday, July 16, 2019 @ 02:20 PM
14568
US Companies Threatened With Sanctions May be Denied Chinese Rare Earth Materials
Molten rare earth metal 'Lanthanum'

US companies sanctioned by China for supplying weapons to Taiwan may be denied rare earth elements (REEs), which have critical applications in aerospace and defence (A & D) industry.

China threatened sanctions against US companies selling arms to Taiwan during last week - though it has not named them officially - the companies could include Lockheed Martin (F-16 jets sold to Taiwan), Raytheon (Stinger missiles), General Dynamics (M1A2T tanks), and BAE and Oshkosh  (tanks equipment).

Jet engines are manufactured by US-based General Electric, Rolls Royce, Pratt & Whitney firms using REEs such as Rhenium and Praseodymium.

Chinese state media quoting experts suggested at sanctions against US companies obtaining REEs from China as part of the supply chain to the main weapons integrators such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

US Companies Threatened With Sanctions May be Denied Chinese Rare Earth Materials

China could effectively block US-Taiwan arms trade if it cuts off rare earth supplies to the US as it controls a lion’s share of the planet’s rare-earth reserves. Some 80% of US imports of REEs from 2014-2017 are reportedly from China. The Pentagon accounts for about 1% of US demand, which in turn accounts for about 9% of global demand for rare earths, according to a 2016 report from the congressional US Government Accountability Office.

Taiwan’s $2.2 billion order consists of 108 Abrams Tanks, Stinger missiles and related equipment. While the navigation systems of the General Dynamics tanks are made using samarium-cobalt, Raytheon uses rare-earth minerals that have unique magnetic, heat-resistant and phosphorescent properties to manufacture sensors and guidance systems for its missiles.

Another major deal green-signalled by the US to Taipei is for F-16 jets. Rare earth materials are used in engines, disk drive motors, radar of the aircraft.

US Companies Threatened With Sanctions May be Denied Chinese Rare Earth Materials
A single F-35 combat jet requires nearly 920 pounds (418 kg) of REEs

Other applications in the defense hardware manufacturing industries include fin actuators in missile guidance and control systems, control devices in tanks, missile systems, command and control centres; lasers, interrogators, underwater mines, countermeasures; satellite communications, radar, and sonar on submarines and surface ships; optical equipment and speakers,  components in anti-missile defense systems, satellites and night vision devices among others.

Each F-35 fighter, Virginia-class submarine and Arleigh-Burke guided missile destroyer requires 920 pounds (417kg); 9200 pounds (4,170kg) and  5200 pounds (2,360kg) of rare earth metals.

Terfonal-D is a rare earth alloy made of Terbium, Iron and Dysprosium that is used in high-power sonar on ships and submarines. Stealth helicopters also use Terfenol-D speakers in their noise cancellation technology blades and NdFeB magnets.

 

US Companies Threatened With Sanctions May be Denied Chinese Rare Earth Materials
Patriot surface-to-air missile system also has components that are made of rare earths

The following is a list of some of the US-made military hardware in which critical parts are made using REEs

Product

Rare Earth Element (REE)

Usage

F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter

Yttrium oxide

Jet engine

ATHENA laser weapon system

Erbium, Ytterbium, Neodymium

Optical fibers in fiber laser module

Tomahawk missile

Combination of Neodymium, Dysprosium,  Praseodymium, Samarium, Terbium

Fin actuators in missile guidance and  control systems, GPS, sensors

Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) guided bombs

Combination of Neodymium, Dysprosium,  Praseodymium, Samarium, Terbium

Fin actuators in missile guidance and  control systems, GPS, sensors

AN/ALQ-184 Electronic Attack Pod

Yttrium

Electronic jamming devices, storage batteries

Zumwalt-class destroyer

Terbium, Neodymium, Dysprosium,  Praseodymium, Samarium

Electric motors

HUMVEE military truck

Yttrium, Europium, Terbium

Humvee-mounted Laser Avenger

F-16, F-15, F-22

Rhenium

 

Erbium

 

Samarium-cobalt

Jet engine

 

Jet engine

 

Electric systems- permanent magnets

M1A2 Abrams tank

Samarium-cobalt

 

Europium, Neodymium, Terbium, Yttrium

Navigation system

 

Laser-equipped computer main gun sight

Stinger MANPAD

Combination of Praseodymium, Samarium, Neodymium, Terbium, Dysprosium

Fin actuators in missile guidance and  control systems, GPS, sensors

Precision-guided munitions

Combination of Neodymium, Dysprosium,  Praseodymium, Samarium, Terbium

Fins attached to fuselage, special magnets

PATRIOT missile air defense system

Gadolinium, Samarium, Yttrium

 

Radio frequency circulators

MQ-9, MQ-1 Predator drones

Yttrium, Terbium

Laser Weapon System

 

 

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