According toreport published by for the Defense Department and government and defense industry officials,Chinese hackers have gained access to the designs of many of the nation’s most sensitive advanced weapons systems.
The compromised U.S. designs included those for combat aircraft and ships, as well as missile defenses vital for Europe, Asia and the Gulf, including the advanced Patriot missile system, the Navy’s Aegis ballistic missile defense systems, the F/A-18 fighter jet, the V-22 Osprey, the Black Hawk helicopter and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The report comes a month before President Obama meets with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in California. The report did not specify the extent or time of the cyber-thefts, but the espionage would give China knowledge that could be exploited in a conflict, such as the ability to knock out communications and corrupting data.
For the first time, the Pentagon specifically named the Chinese government and military as the culprit behind intrusions into government and other computer systems. China dismissed the report as groundless.
“China pays high attention to the cyber security issue and is firmly opposed to all forms of hacker attacks,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.
This Cyber Theft accelerates China’s acquisition of advanced military technology and saves billions in development costs and also 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 faster.
A spokesman for the Pentagon said “The Department of Defense has growing concerns about the global threat to economic and national security from persistent cyber-intrusions aimed at the theft of intellectual property, trade secrets and commercial data, which threatens the competitive edge of U.S. businesses like those in the Defense Industrial Base”
Attempts are being made by the Pentagon to combat the escalating cyber-espionage. The government launched a program two years ago which helps defense contractors strengthen their computer firewalls. The program allows independent companies to use classified data from the National Security Agency to scan their networks for malware.
The Defense Science Board report also listed broad technologies that have been compromised, such as drone video systems, nanotechnology, tactical data links and electronic warfare systems.