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F-35, Aegis, PATRIOT Missile, Littoral vessel, Blackhawk chopper, and THAAD are among the compromised programs

The Defense Science Board (DSB) in a new report suggests that Chinese military hackers have compromised one of America's most costly weapons projects -- the nearly $1.4T USD F-35 Joint Strike fighter weapons system.  

I. Why Research When You Can Steal?

In its confidential report for the Pentagon and industry officials -- first revealed by The Washington Post -- the DSB claims that blueprints and data pertaining to two dozen weapons systems -- including U.S. missile defenses and combat aircraft and ships -- were accessed by Chinese hackers.  The report, by the mixed civilian/government board, which advises government and corporate policy makers, does not suggest necessarily the Chinese have stolen complete designs.

The U.S. federal government recently expressed the desire to force "help" onto private sector utilities.  However, the report basically indicated that at this point the federal government is incompetent when it comes to cybersecurity when it comes to foreign threats, unable to sufficiently block attacks on itself, let alone others.

Among the other weapons systems accessed by Chinese hackers include:

The nation's most expensive weapon in history -- the F-35 -- has been compromised by Chinese intrusions and may be effectively useless in combat as a result.
[Image Source: Lockheed Martin]

Compromised contractors include:
  • Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)
  • Raytheon Comp. (RTN)
  • Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC)
Mark Stokes, executive director of the Project 2049 Institute -- an Asian-centric D.C. think-tank, comments, "[The intrusions are] staggering.  These are all very critical weapons systems, critical to our national security. When I hear this in totality, it’s breathtaking."

II.  Experts Astounded by China's Weapons Progress

China has expressed frustration that its military trails the U.S.'s technologically.  But recently the Asian nation has been shocking observers with its weapons development.  While "experts" expressed skepticism that China would be able to field a stealth fighter, it shocked the world in Jan. 2011 showing off a fully functional design.

Much of the design of the "J-20" stealth fighter is thought to have been stolen from the U.S., though it's unclear whether that was the result of offline subterfuge (analysis of crashed U.S. fighters) or online intrusions.

China's strategy to update its military in the most cost effective manner possible appears to be two-fold.  Some technologies it buys at budget rates from U.S. Cold War-era rivals like Russia -- such as its first aircraft carrier that deployed last year (a retrofitted Russian craft).  Other technologies it simply steals from the U.S. and builds itself.

The hodge-podge approach isn't pretty, but it may prove modestly effective given the size of the nation's military.

China cyberattacks
China's cost-saving approach to defense appears to be partially to steal U.S. technology.
[Image Source: DMM News]

James A. Lewis, a cyber-policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), remarks, "You’ve seen significant improvements in Chinese military capabilities through their willingness to spend, their acquisitions of advanced Russian weapons, and from their cyber-espionage campaign.  Ten years ago, I used to call the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] the world’s largest open-air military museum. I can’t say that now."

A frustrated unnamed senior military official told The Washington Post that the Chinese strategy of stealing U.S. technology has allowed it to save billions.  The source comments, "In many cases, they don’t know they’ve been hacked until the FBI comes knocking on their door.  This is billions of dollars of combat advantage for China. They’ve just saved themselves 25 years of research and development. It’s nuts."

According to the report, the stolen information could be used not only to make weapons, but also to counter U.S. designs by pinpointing and compromising their digital or physical weaknesses.  Winslow T. Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), comments, "If they got into the combat systems, it enables them to understand it to be able to jam it or otherwise disable it.  If they’ve got into the basic algorithms for the missile and how they behave, somebody better get out a clean piece of paper and start to design all over again."

III. Obama Administration's "Tough Talk" Approach Fails

According to The Washington Post report, sources indicate that a year ago U.S. officials met with top Chinese officials in a closed door meeting to present evidence that they had "caught" China in cyberspying.  The Chinese, unperturbed responded with their usual denials.

Unable to defend itself with cyber-might, the Obama administration has since largely turned its focus to defense via rhetoric.  Following the U.S. Department of Defense's (DoD) May 2011 declaration that cyberattacks could be construed as acts of warU.S. National Security Agency director Gen. Keith Alexander delivered testimony on Chinese hacking to the Senate Armed Services Committee.  In his testimony, held March 2012, he claimed that the Chinese were destroying the U.S. economy with hacks.

President Obama bows to the President of China. [Image Source: Reuters]

U.S. President Barack Obama was mostly silent until this year, when a series of Chinese-sourced attacks struck The New York TimesBloombergThe WSJ, and the U.S. Federal Reserve.  Around that same time security officials with the research firm Mandiat finally pinned the attacks on an elite group of PLA hackers -- dubbed Unit 61398 -- which were based out of a government-guarded 12-story white high-rise in Shanghai.  That report was confirmed by government officials earlier this month, which led to China responding that the U.S. was "the real 'hacking empire.'"

Amid the confirmations that the PLA was behind the victimization of the U.S., President Obama responded to these developments with his toughest rhetoric yet, which led to counter-accusations from China.  The tough rhetoric from the Commander-in-chief seemed to work, though; Unit 61398 fell silent for nearly three months from February into May, but recently returned to action.

China's President Xi Jinping and President Obama are expected to meet next month in California; the issue of hacking is expected to be high on the agenda.

IV. Plans for Australian Spy Headquarters Stolen by Chinese

In related news, Chinese hackers have reportedly stolen plans to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization's new $630M AU ($608M USD) headquarters.  The plans were stolen from a contractor and include locations/details of communications cabling, servers, and security systems.

First reported by the Australian Broadcasting Company, Des Ball, an Australian National University cybersecurity expert, suggests that the hack could allow Chinese spies to effectively bug the building.

ASIO Building
The ASIO building [Image Source: AFP]

The spy agency's chief dodged the reports calling them "unsubstantiated", while refusing to definitively confirm or deny if data loss had occurred.  He commented, "This building is a very secure, state-of-the-art facility.  I'm not going to comment on operational matters involving the Australian Security Intelligence Organization or any security matters."

The lakeside glass-and-concrete structure has been plagued with budget overruns and delays.  The structure is located in Canberra, a city in southeastern Australia.

Source: The Washington Post

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RE: China needs a hands on demonstration.
By Ammohunt on 5/28/2013 2:22:08 PM , Rating: 1
Technology isn't that much of an advantage look at WWII we were completely outmatched technically by the Germans tanks,airplanes, submarines yet we still prevailed. Our failure is in Government leadership we need to pick better leaders.

RE: China needs a hands on demonstration.
By FITCamaro on 5/28/2013 2:33:30 PM , Rating: 2
We prevailed because Hitler was stupid and tried to fight a two front war between the US/Britain and the Russians. If he had finished the war in Europe first, he would have won and then been able to attack Russia with full force.

RE: China needs a hands on demonstration.
By bitterman0 on 5/28/13, Rating: 0
RE: China needs a hands on demonstration.
By Reclaimer77 on 5/28/2013 4:58:25 PM , Rating: 3
Sorry but your opinion is historically false.

It's a well known fact Hitler made key blunders that cost Germany the war. Sure, we might have still prevailed eventually, but it would have taken much longer if he had conquered Europe first.

Germany's Navy and Air Force were outmatched by Great Britain's Navy and Air Force

Huh?? Where are you getting that from?

The Bismark sank the HMS Hood in a matter of minutes, Britain's biggest and most capable warship. But again, Hitler stupidly used this awesome tool.

On top of Germany's superior surface fleet, they had the dreaded U-Boats which nobody even had an answer too. However, wait for it, Hitler decided to use them stupidly. Notice a theme?

Hitler and the Nazi leadership were stupid stupid people. They basically ran the war on ideology and ignored what their own Generals and commanders on the field, the ones actually fighting the war, were saying and asking for. Later in the war the failure of their leadership was so complete, these officers were too scared to even speak up and offer the game-changing ideas that would have made the difference.

RE: China needs a hands on demonstration.
By bitterman0 on 5/28/2013 6:59:22 PM , Rating: 2
Key blunders? That's one way of putting it. Lack of focus, strategy and insufficient preparation is how I would put it. On some level, it followed from Hitler's insanity and utter lack of leadership at the top of the chain of command. The particular mix of allies did not help, either.

In war numerical and technological superiority is not a guarantee of a quick and decisive victory. For example, the USSR has amassed vastly superior numbers of infantry, artillery, tanks and airplanes on the western border in 1941. Some of the tanks, artillery and airplanes were greatly superior to what the Germany (or any country in the world) had at the time (it's enough to mention T-34 and KV, but there is a lot more to it). And yet, Germans have managed to get to the walls of Moscow.

Don't discount the fact that Great Britain is on an island. To conquer it would take a successful invasion that involves transporting massive amounts of troops, tanks and artillery across the channel. Surely, Germans have entered the war having some great ships (and built some more during the opening stages), but without naval and aerial superiority it would be a folly to attempt any sort of transport - it would surely result in excessive (if not total) loss of transported troops and equipment. Hitler understood that, and chose to leave Great Britain alone simply because there was no winning there.

WW2 U-Boats, while an excellent tool in harassing the enemy's Navy and preying on merchant ships, are not particularly suited for troop transport operations, either. And as you've brought up Bismarck - incidentally, its demise marked the end of German surface ships operations.

I put this question to you: do you seriously believe that it was possible for Nazi Germany to successfully deploy enough troops, artillery, tanks, provisions and ammo across the channel at any time during the war?

If not, then how do you suppose they could make Great Britain to capitulate? Just bomb them to oblivion, eh? That has a familiar ring to it... wait for it... that was the plan for the Soviet industrial complex at Ural mountains after the fall of Moscow!

By drycrust3 on 5/29/2013 1:04:28 AM , Rating: 2
I put this question to you: do you seriously believe that it was possible for Nazi Germany to successfully deploy enough troops, artillery, tanks, provisions and ammo across the channel at any time during the war?

Yes. Britain was nearly bankrupted by the U boats, it was only American money that saved them. Without that Germany would have just been able to walk into the UK and take it all.
The importance of breaking the Enigma codes was critical to Britain's survival. Without that it is almost certain Britain would have been conquered.

RE: China needs a hands on demonstration.
By A11 on 5/29/2013 3:27:20 AM , Rating: 2
Bismarck was a brand new battleship. Hood was a 20 year old battlecruiser and far from Britains latest or greatest. It was, however, probably the most prestigious ship in the royal navy due to its fabulous looks.

Battlecruisers were never meant to go toe to toe with battleships and as such it was pure idiocy to send it to fight Bismarck, the very kind of ship it was designed to outrun and flee from.

The kriegsmarine was no match for the royal navy as the latter had something like 15x more ships than the former and even a super ship like Bismarck did little to tip the balance.

The Luftwaffe otoh was much stronger than the RAF and its generally accepted that had the germans stuck to bombing the british airfields in 1940, rather than blitzing london because Hitler got a fit, then the RAF would have crumbled.

By bitterman0 on 5/29/2013 1:11:34 PM , Rating: 1
24/25 Aug 1940 - German bombs fall on central London for the first time. The following night, 43 aircraft from Bomber Command retaliate by bombing Berlin.

Call it German Superiority, because I don't.

Even if we are to assume for a minute that somehow Germans would get an upper hand in the air and completely destroy RAF, would it mean that it opens a door for an invasion?

Not by a long shot.

Although paratroopers could have been used to quickly achieve specific (and limited) objectives, without support of general infantry, tanks and artillery these missions would become useless sacrifices very quickly. Iron Crosses all around! (posthumously)

Besides, it was all an interlude. The real actual things were set in motion by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which gave Hitler enough peace of mind that the USSR is "peaceful" to go ahead with Poland, Holland, France, etc.

The USSR, among other things, has instituted the draft (August 1939 - before the war began), occupied half of Poland in September 1939, swallowed Baltic states in June 1940 and even attempted to beat Finland into submission. All that while remaining "peaceful".

Had Hitler continued focusing on Great Britain (with or without success), 1941 and thereon after would have been very different not only for Germany, but for the whole world. The Soviet Union would have carried out its "surprise" attack sometime around July 1941 on Nazi Germany with simply devastating consequences.

RE: China needs a hands on demonstration.
By Reclaimer77 on 5/29/2013 3:52:56 PM , Rating: 3
The kriegsmarine was no match for the royal navy as the latter had something like 15x more ships than the former and even a super ship like Bismarck did little to tip the balance.

Exactly my point! The German naval commanders knew you could build 300 U-Boats for what it cost to build and crew uber battlewagons like the Bismark. They were begging Berlin for more U-Boats! But the stupid Nazi leadership and Hitler liked gigantic shiny powerful symbols, and poorly utilized the superior tactical nature of the submarines.

Not that they utilized the Krigsmire any better. "Hey lets take the most advanced and powerful warship ever built, barely give it any escorts, give it NO air cover, NO U-boats scouting for it and/or shadowing it, and just send it off to do whatever alone!"


Like I said, stupid stupid stupid!

By bitterman0 on 5/29/2013 4:31:58 PM , Rating: 2
The German naval commanders knew you could build 300 U-Boats for what it cost to build and crew uber battlewagons like the Bismark

... or more than 750 Pz IV tanks.

RE: China needs a hands on demonstration.
By embedded_bill on 5/28/2013 5:16:58 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting observation.

Germany was winning the Battle of Britain until they made a strategic change from focusing on British industrial complex and airfields to carpet bombing British cities when they didn't have fighters with long enough range to support the bombers.

German tanks had close to a 5:1 kill ratio, but were outnumbered by in the range of 10:1, still that kill ratio must have made them either impressive machines or impressively operated - at least compared to their counterparts.

German surface ships were greatly outnumbered, but the best of the German ships bested the best of the British.

Germany's failings were strategic, fighting Britain alone they likely would held their own, and fortunately it didn't turn out that way.

RE: China needs a hands on demonstration.
By Jaybus on 5/29/2013 12:34:41 PM , Rating: 4
No, they were not strategic decisions at all. They were the insane reactionary decisions of a megalomaniac. And it was very calculated by the British command, or at least Prime Minister Churchill.

In August 1940 the British bombed Berlin, which at the time was at the far extreme range of their aircraft and caused little damage, but killed civilians and brought the war home to Berliners. Churchill gambled that the insane Hitler could not help but throw a fit and retaliate. Of course, he did, and in spite of the objections of his military commanders, the bombing of London began less than 2 weeks later.

As always, the best weapon is the mind, and he who can keep his head when all about him are losing theirs.

By BRB29 on 5/29/2013 12:47:17 PM , Rating: 2
So in short, Hitler was not a good strategist and have no self control.

Thank you for confirming agree with what embedded_bill said.

By Strunf on 5/29/2013 7:56:36 AM , Rating: 2
The problem is that even if he conquered Europe he would still need to maintain a large number of troops spread around it just to keep any pockets of resistance in check, regardless of how he played it out Europe was just too big for Germany.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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