Report: US weapon and aircraft plans stolen
In early May, news agency Bloomberg reported that Chinese hackers had been spying on US defence contractors since at least 2007 and had gained access to military secrets. The Washington Post has now revealed further details. According to their report, plans for the F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft as well as other planes, missile defence systems, new warships and drone video systems have been stolen.
The Washington Post bases its report on information from a confidential report which lists the weapons systems involved. The report says that plans for the Patriot PAC-3 missile system, the THAAD missile defence system, the naval Aegis Combat System, the new littoral combat ship for use in coastal waters, and other systems have all been abstracted. Affected fighter aircraft include the F/A-18 Hornet and V-22 Osprey and plans for the MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter have also been obtained. Whether the plans were stolen directly from the US government or from defence contractors such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman and when the espionage took place is not revealed.
According to the Washington Post, some of these weapons systems form the "backbone of the Pentagon’s regional missile defence for Asia, Europe and the Persian Gulf." The newspaper believes that the report helps to explain why "the Obama administration has escalated its warnings to the Chinese government to stop what Washington sees as rampant cybertheft." A high-ranking military official told the newspaper that China had obtained "billions of dollars of combat advantage" and that cyber-espionage had saved it "25 years of research and development".