WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Monday said he welcomes a new partnership between Lockheed Martin and New York semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries meant to produce chips critical to national security systems.
Schumer said the new partnership will give GlobalFoundries an edge when applying for grants through his chips subsidies bill that Congress passed last year, which sets aside $2 billion in grants specifically for microelectronics in defense systems.
“Because of my chips and science bill, two titans of upstate New York industry are coming together —GlobalFoundries and Lockheed Martin — to ensure that most of the chips that are used in our sensitive military technology are made right here in upstate New York,” Schumer said at an event announcing the partnership at GF’s headquarters in Malta, New York.
“When Global Foundries applies for a chips grant to expand and meet demand for their chips by the defense industry and other industries like autos, they’re going to know that they have a willing customer in a great company like Lockheed Martin,” he added.
In addition to the possible defense grants from the Chips Act, the Pentagon already awarded GlobalFoundries $117 million in Defense Production Act funding last year to produce 45-nonamometer semiconductors in New York.
The company will seek to more securely and efficiently manufacture chips Lockheed needs, including next-generation microelectronics, while bundling chips more tightly to reduce production costs.
Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet said the partnership will “help increase access to domestically produced microelectronics — a true national security imperative.”
Lockheed declined to offer details on the partnership, including how much it is investing.
The subsidies and tax incentives for microelectronics companies in the Chips Act are largely geared toward onshoring semiconductor production amid concerns China could disrupt the global supply chain.
China and its neighbors produce most of the word’s semiconductors, and the U.S. only produces 12% of global microprocessors. Additionally, Taiwan makes 92% of the world’s most advanced semiconductors, sparking fears that a Chinese invasion of the island could deprive the U.S. of the cutting-edge and lower-end chips both needed in weapons systems.
“We need the most advanced chip technologies and superior cybersecurity, anti-tamper and other capabilities that are specialized to bolster our national defense and deter aggression,” said Taiclet.
Taiclet noted that each CH-52 helicopter for the Marines contains over 2,000 chips. He also stressed the need for lower-end “legacy chips” for systems like Javelin anti-tank missiles that Ukraine has used to defend against Russia’s invasion. Each Javelin system contains 250 microchips, and the U.S. has sent thousands of the missiles to Ukraine.
Beijing produces many of these lower-end chips and exports many to the U.S. — though it’s unclear how many actually end up in American weapons systems.
Schumer added an amendment to the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act that will eventually ban Chinese-produced semiconductors from critical U.S. national security systems, arguing they could compromise weapons systems.
Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.