A long list of major U.S. aerospace and missile defense systems that have been compromised by hackers was obtained by The Washington Post. The list was withheld from the publicly released version of a Defense Science Board Task Force report to the Pentagon on cyber threats last January. The report concluded that “the DOD is not prepared to defend against this threat.” According to senior industry and military officials contacted by the newpaper, most of the hacking was done by China.
The most prominent program on the list is the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter, confirming reports in 2009 that the design had been compromised in some way. Other aircraft listed were the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey; Boeing C-17; Boeing P-8 Poseidon; Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and Growler; Northrop Grumman Global Hawk; and the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. General Electric’s T700 engine was also on the list.
Perhaps most serious, the list included air and missile defense systems such as the Lockheed Martin Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system; the Raytheon Patriot PAC-3 surface-to-air missile; the Raytheon AMRAAM air-to-air missile; and the Aegis system.
The list also comprised technologies and systems such as full-authority digital engine controls; Sigint systems, including specific emitter detection and Elint processing (some of these being on the RC-135 collection aircraft); munitions fuzing safety; tactical datalinks, infrared search-and-track systems; electronic warfare systems; and Mode 5 IFF.
The extent of damage and/or espionage relating to the listed systems was not specified. However, a senior military official told The Post: “This is billions of dollars of combat advantage for China. They’ve just saved themselves 25 years of research and development. It’s nuts.”
None of the U.S. aerospace majors would confirm that their computer security systems had been breached.