A confidential Pentagon report leaked to the Washington Post accuses hackers of stealing the designs of many of America's most advanced weapons systems.
Experts warn that the electronic intrusions gave China access to
advanced technology that could accelerate the development of its weapons
systems and weaken the U.S. military advantage in a future conflict.
Some of the weapons form the backbone of the Pentagon’s regional
missile defense for Asia, Europe and the Persian Gulf. The designs
included those for the advanced Patriot missile system, known as PAC-3;
an Army system for shooting down ballistic missiles, known as the
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD; and the Navy’s Aegis
ballistic-missile defense system.
Also identified in the report
are vital combat aircraft and ships, including the F/A-18 fighter jet,
the V-22 Osprey, the Black Hawk helicopter and the Navy’s new Littoral
Combat Ship, which is designed to patrol waters close to shore.
on the list is the most expensive weapons system ever built — the F-35
Joint Strike Fighter, which is on track to cost about $1.4 trillion. The
2007 hack of that project was reported previously.
The confidential list of compromised weapons system designs and
technologies represents the clearest look at what the Chinese are
suspected of targeting. When the list was read to independent defense
experts, they said they were shocked by the extent of the
cyber-espionage and the potential for compromising U.S. defenses.
staggering,” said Mark Stokes, executive director of the Project 2049
Institute, a think tank that focuses on Asia security issues. “These are
all very critical weapons systems, critical to our national security.
When I hear this in totality, it’s breathtaking.”
The experts said
the cybertheft creates three major problems. First, access to advanced
U.S. designs gives China an immediate operational edge that could be
exploited in a conflict. Second, it accelerates China’s acquisition of
advanced military technology and saves billions in development costs.
And third, the U.S. designs can be used to benefit China’s own defense
industry. There are long-standing suspicions that China’s theft of
designs for the F-35 fighter allowed Beijing to develop its version much
So here's the deal, at least for Canada. The justification for the F-35's sky high price tag is the airplane's, top secret, ultra high-tech electronic wizardry and limited stealth. Take that key advantage away and you're left with a pretty mediocre warplane with marginal performance in all the traditional areas that make a fighter great - speed, climb rate, roll and turn rate, range and payload. Because all three versions of the F-35 are based on the bloated, short take off and vertical landing design for the U.S. Marines, it's a single-engine aircraft that is incapable of supercruise.
The cost of this "way beyond state of the art" technology is supposed to be spread among the select group of nations allowed to buy the F-35 except that China, the country the F-35 is intended to target, helped itself to club privileges when no one was looking. And they aren't kicking in a dime toward the shared costs either.
Worse yet, the Chinese knock-off doesn't have the single-engine limitation of the F-35. And it could be operational at around the same time as the F-35 comes into service. And it's bound to be a lot cheaper. And did I mention theirs has twin engines?