Thursday, September 30, 2010

U.S. Bomb Output Is Now Limited By China Metal Quotas

Photo: Motors in missiles like the JDAM might be three times as big without advanced magnets. The JDAM has been used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan. Photographer: Philip A. McDaniel/U.S. Navy via Bloomberg

Pentagon Loses Control Of Bombs To China Metal Monopoly -- Bloomberg

A senior manager at a company that churns out metals routinely used in U.S. smart bombs pauses in mid-sentence when his phone rings: a Wall Street stockbroker looking for information. He makes a note to have an assistant call back -- someone who is fluent in English, not just Chinese.

“It’s a seller’s market now,” says Bai Baosheng, 43, puffing a cigarette in his office in Baotou, China, where his company sells bags of powder containing a metallic element known as neodymium, vital in tiny magnets that direct the fins of bombs dropped by U.S. Air Force jets in Afghanistan.

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My Comment: I am surprised that is there is no stockpile for such a collection of strategic materials. But with China using the 'rare earths' card against Japan in a recent diplomatic dispute, I am expecting this to change.

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