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

  • Aishwarya Rakesh
  • Tuesday, July 16, 2019 @ 02:20 PM
  • 27265
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 lions share of the planets 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. Taiwans $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