Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Problem We Won't Admit Even Exists

There's a security scandal underway concerning the French manufacturer of the stealth submarine, Scorpene. The Australians, who recently ordered similar boats, are particularly vexed. From The Australian:

There is almost no breach of ­national security more serious than the disclosure of the stealth secrets of a country’s submarine fleet.

A submarine is only as effective as the secrets it keeps. If an enemy knows those secrets, the game is over. As the old wartime saying goes, “loose lips sink ships.”

That is why Australia should be deeply concerned by the Snowden-style leak of 22,400 secret documents written by the same French shipbuilder, DCNS, that will design Australia’s future submarine fleet.

The leaked DCNS documents describe in excruciating detail — line by line and bolt by bolt — the entire combat abilities of India’s new six-boat Scorpene submarine fleet. It has dealt a hammer blow to India’s national security and it begs the question; if it has happened to India, why couldn’t it happen to us?

Australia cannot afford to spend $50 billion on the biggest defence project in the nation’s history only to have it potentially compromised by sloppy security about confidential information.

Hmmm, sloppy security. Serious business. But not when it comes to another amazing bit of stealth warfighting gear, the Lockheed F-35 joint strike fighter.

Someone (everybody knows it's China) had a field day hacking Lockheed and British Aerospace computers downloading (stealing) massive amounts of data (secrets) and millions of lines of computer code (stealth operating system) of the F-35. Then Iran managed to hack a Lockheed RQ-170 super secret stealth drone, bringing it in for a crash landing. Chinese aerospace types didn't waste any time getting to Tehran. They scoured the drone for Lockheed's stealth secrets - shaping, materials, coatings and such and they went home with plenty of parting gifts, mainly the drone's electronic wizardry.

The hacks and the RQ-170 capture caused a big kerfuffle for a while but then the noise went silent and nobody has had much to say about it since. It's as though a blanket was thrown over it. After all the F-35, like American banks, is too big to fail.

The Australians are grappling with a legitimate security concern in the French sub leaks. It's a good thing, F-35 customers don't seem to care.


Toby said...

Does Lockheed buy parts from China?

Steve said...

In a nuclear war the F35 is nothing but roasted pork.

The Mound of Sound said...

Steve, in a nuclear war, we're toast. Bugger the F35s. Rarely is it mentioned how the mere forward deployment of F35 units to place them in range to strike one of their two intended adversaries could quickly bring on nuclear escalation.

You can't deploy these damned things without analysts being able to discern what you're about to do with them. To use them you have to place your entire military on high alert and that's all but impossible to conceal. You must prepare for everything from a pre-emptive strike against your forward bases by jittery defenders to a nuclear launch on detection of the 35's essential support aircraft nearing your airspace.

For defenders it can trigger the "use'em or lose'em" mentality. Do you simply wait until the stealth attackers take down your air defences and leave your strategic weaponry vulnerable to destruction or do you prepare to launch your missiles, land based and on your subs?

This reminds me of nothing so much as the strategic destabilization of the Cold War, first when the Americans toyed with the idea of adding the neutron bomb to their arsenal and then when both sides got into the Dr. Strangelove scenario of "launch on detect" nuclear tipped short and intermediate range missiles - one faulty circuit and the robots end the world.

I find it deeply troubling that no one is talking about what these stealth warplanes are really intended to do - i.e. what capabilities do they add that conventional multi-role fighters may not - and, in those specific scenarios, how would the intended adversaries probably respond to their use?

That's a conversation no one is having.

Toby said...

Mound, most people have no idea what the F35 is for; it's just another war toy. If the generals say we need it then we need it, etc.

Do the generals really know what the F35 is for? That's a serious question. They have such a terrible record of mal-purchase - do the submarines ring a bell? I have no doubt that Lockheed can make a wonderful sales pitch. I'm sure our golden boy PM will have his picture taken watching the plane do its loops. Does he understand what it is for? Does our rather dazed and amazed Minister of War understand? Our government is so tied up as colonial lacky to the White House that I'm really not sure at all that our powers that be or their opposition have a clue.

By the way, it is about time our Ministry of Defense put some first class effort into boosting our Search and Rescue and our coastal defense. Forget Eastern Europe; Canada is the point.