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The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee this week released their fiscal year 2022 defense appropriations bill, which for the first time included language supporting further research and development (R&D) into the issues surrounding lead-free electronics in mission-critical applications.
IPC and its allies have called for a five-year, $40 million investment in a public-private R&D program to support the transition of various aerospace, defense, and high-performance (ADHP) electronics to lead-free technologies. To date, Congress has provided a combined $15 million for this purpose in FY20 and FY21.
The U.S. House version of the FY22 defense appropriations bill, which was approved by the House Appropriations Committee in August, included $7.5 million for this purpose. The new Senate language makes it more likely that such funds will be allocated as the legislation is finalized.
“The gap between commercial and defense electronics has grown as lead-free has become the norm in commercial technologies,” said Chris Mitchell, IPC vice president of global government relations. “Today’s defense electronics are now 15 to 20 years behind the commercial market in terms of the underlying technologies used, creating risks to supply chain resiliency and defense readiness. With lead-based electronics becoming more difficult and expensive for the Defense Department to procure, the transition to lead-free is imperative.
“We salute the leadership of Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) on this issue, and we call on Congress to ensure that at least $7.5 million for lead-free R&D is included in the final bill.”
IPC and its partners in the Pb-Free Electronics Risk Management (PERM) Council and the U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics believe a sustained investment in lead-free R&D will yield more than $100 million in annual defense savings and improve military readiness and overall innovation. Participants in the R&D program include Purdue University, the University of Maryland, Auburn University, Binghamton University, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technologies, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Boeing, Plexus, and many others.