Mike Buetow

Munitions are cool again.

Well, maybe they always were. But the emphasis by North American manufacturers on procuring defense contracts has perhaps never been greater.

In the throes of the dotcom meltdown of late 2001 to early 2003, when China and Taiwan hoovered up the vast majority of the Western PCB market, forcing those hardy remaining souls to repurpose their business plans, the Pentagon became an unwitting savior. Manufacturer after manufacturer pivoted from the “3Cs” (computers, communications, consumer) to CET&I (military communications, electronics, telecommunications, and intelligence technologies). They eschewed past complaints of onerous red tape and sprung for the certifications to elbow their way into the Pentagon supply chain.

There wasn’t much choice at the time. It was military or bust.

Going back to 2001, the United States made about 45% of the world’s electronics equipment. Defense and related high-rel sales made up less than 10% of the US domestic fabrication market, which at the time was coming off a record year at around $11 billion in production output spread across 650 or so facilities.

We all know what happened.

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