PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis paper seeks to explore how United States dependency on foreign supplies of dysprosium affects its ability to produce and maintain current and future military defense systems. Dysprosium, one of the 17 rare earth metals, is necessary for the production of powerful permanent magnets. These magnets are used in high-tech weapon systems, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The problem is that the U.S. remains completely dependent on China for its dysprosium supply. This paper does not seek to answer the possibility or likelihood of China blocking the supply of dysprosium to the U.S. Instead, it will attempt to identify U.S. vulnerabilities to a foreign supply disruption. This report finds that remaining completely dependent on China for dysprosium and having no stockpile of dysprosium puts U.S. security at risk. There are virtually no current effective substitutes for dysprosium, and in the event of a sustained supply disruption, it would be very difficult for the U.S. military to produce and maintain current and future high-tech weapon systems during the first several years of the disruption. The potential for developing some alternative supplies of dysprosium–as well as developing electronic components that use less or no dysprosium–would increase over the longer-term.
Degree ProgramHonors College