Details of Chicom cyber theft related to F-35

Bill Gertz:
China obtained more than 50 terabytes of data from U.S. defense and government networks, notably the Joint Strike Fighter’s stealth radar and engine secrets, through cyber espionage, according to newly disclosed National Security Agency documents.

A NSA briefing slide labeled “Top Secret” and headlined “Chinese Exfiltrate Sensitive Military Data,” states that the Chinese have stolen a massive amount of data from U.S. government and private contractors.

The document was made public by the German magazine Der Spiegel in a two articles detailing how NSA in the mid-2000s was capable of conducting global cyber intelligence-gathering by tapping into the networks of foreign intelligence services and stealing the data they were collecting from others.

The unique capability of spying on the spies was described in a series of documents that were stolen in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, currently a fugitive in Russia.

For the F-35, according to NSA the Chinese were able to obtain digital design information on several different types of radar modules used by the fighter.

Northrop Grumman, the jet’s manufacturer, built the AN/APG-81 active, electronically scanned array radar for the F-35. The high-tech radar uses small, solid-state transmitter and receiver modules that allow the jet to avoid detection by enemy radar, a key stealth feature.

Another Northrop radar on the F-35 is the AN/AAS-37 electro-optical distributed aperture system the company says provides pilots with “unique protective sphere around the aircraft for missile warning, navigation support, and night operations,” according to Northrop’s website.

On F-35 engine schematics, the Chinese stole data on the methods used by the turbine to cool gases, along with leading and trailing edge engine treatments and engine heat reduction data—also key elements of its stealth design.

By learning the secrets, the Chinese were able to include the design and technology in Beijing’s new stealth jet, the J-20. The secret also could allow Chinese air defenses to target the F-35 in a future conflict.
The US seems to have no answer to cyber burglary beyond documenting it.  They don't appear able to stop it or to attack the burglars.  The defense of the US may depend on finding an effective way to deal with these thefts of information.  I don't get the sense that it is a high priority with the Obama administration.


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