Shortage of Fasteners is the core problem
About a decade ago, the major companies decided to grab a chance to reduce their manufacturing costs and instead of maintaining their previous long standing relationship with countless small businesses that had supplied them so successfully over the previous decades, they dumped the lot and outsourced to the likes of China. Two things happened in short order. 1 a very large number of those previously sound, well managed small businesses went to the wall. As an example, some 800, yes, eight hundred, small specialist steel mills completely disappeared in PA. 2 The executives that had driven the change got their promotion and the investors made their profit. It hardly takes a brain surgeon to realise that the 2nd group were not about to tell the world, let alone their senior management that they had made a bad decision, particularly as the new suppliers of those fasteners had not yet got up to speed. (A previous comment referred to a large store room with piles of fasteners was correct). You see, what happens is the old expensive, (relatively), stock gets run down first and it is some time before the new stock gives any sign of problems.
But it gets worse. Remember the pet food scandal? Now, you have an industrial sector that HAD been rooted into a long term relationship with suppliers that, if you had a problem, were not too far from you, had every reason to worry about quality and were managed by small business owners who personally lost out if the business failed. Now, you have suppliers that in turn sub contract to a supply chain in a foreign country where there is NO long term record of maintaining that crucial interest in the success of the business. You see, you do not have the same business culture in a communist country because the culture is now dependant upon the local political cadre and the consequential corruption. And please, do not start to argue otherwise, we have had so many examples lately.
It takes great skill to create a sound supply chain for something that seems to be insignificant, a simple fastener. But fasteners are not simple. To manufacture you need an absolutely reliable source of the material, often very specialist alloys that have to be forged in small batches and you must also have a very reliable quality control. So, now you have a rod, or say a 10 foot long bar of your special alloy. Now, you need to use the finest machine tools and highly skilled employees to produce these fasteners, at the highest production rates possible. (When you need millions of identical fasteners, you have to produce them in seconds on specialist automatic lathes). And that brings us to the next stage of this problem. If I handed you the tooling for such a lathe, you would not give it a second glance. Without the knowledge of the difficulties that have to be overcome, hour by hour, to keep those machines running and producing those millions of fasteners, each to the highest tolerances, you cannot possibly know the pitfalls of outsourcing to a poor supply chain.
My heart goes out to the junior execs in Boeing that must have been discarded while the bean counters chucked them and their "home built" supply chain, who also got discarded. The next chapter is when another war breaks out, they will not be able to supply a thing, as all the old suppliers have long gone.
Some time hence, the USA will come to bitterly regret the loss of all those small, dedicated suppliers that they tossed to one side. I will bet my right arm on that.