China’s Ministry of Commerce and General Administration of Customs has announced export controls on gallium and germanium to the U.S. defense industry.
Items meeting certain characteristics shall not be exported without approval and the list includes gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium nitride (GaN), a notice by the department released Monday said.
Gallium and germanium are used in the making of semiconductors and other electronic components.
These two metals, as well as several chemical compounds involving the two materials, are widely used in advanced radar systems installed on warplanes, warships and ground installations.
“Gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium nitride (GaN) are the most basic materials in the making of the transmit receive modules on active electronic scanning array (AESA) radars, which are widely used on modern warplanes, warships and ground installations,” Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Raytheon and Northrop Grumman are reportedly introducing new AESA radar systems based on GaN, which provide superior performance than previously used GaAs. The latest radars for the F/A-18E/F carrier-based fighter jet and the F-35 stealth fighter jet also incorporate GaN.
China accounts for about 85% of global gallium reserves, meaning that it is unlikely for the U.S. and other Western countries to avoid using the Chinese materials without significant cost, Fu said.