This one’s been sitting around since March, unfinished, but we still have the jaws about it, and events this week compelled us to update and hit “send.”
Always opposed to US defense, the Administration managed at once to leak the secrets from the F-22 and F-35 secrets to China, while canceling the former and slow-walking production of the latter, ensuring that America’s future, smaller, land forces won’t be protected by American air superiority.
The F-22 cancellation was the second backstab, the F-35 delays the third, but the first and greatest backstab of them all has been to leak the secrets of those under-purchased planes to a potential competitor.
The Pentagon’s Defense Science Board revealed earlier this year that system design information on the F-35 was obtained from cyber attacks.
The new Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile systems and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile defenses, along with many other systems, were compromised through cyber espionage, the board said in a report.
Most details of the Chinese cyber espionage campaign to obtain F-35 technology remain secret.
However, the Chinese probably obtained the F-35 secrets from Lockheed Martin, its subcontractors, or U.S. allies involved in the development program. Allies that took part in the F-35 program include the United Kingdom, Israel, Italy, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Turkey.
A Chinese Academy of Military Sciences official, Du Wenlong, told Chinese state television on Feb. 20 that the new J-20’s shortened exhaust nozzles, along with tail and vertical fin modifications, are designed to reduce radar detection.
Du also said that a “revolutionary” breakthrough allowed the twin engines to increase both power and reliability.
China’s inability to manufacture quality jet engines has been a weakness of its aircraft manufacturing programs.
Du also said that the electro-optical targeting system provides better surveillance and strike capabilities against both land and sea targets.
The J-20 also has a larger weapons bay than the U.S. F-22, which allows it to carry more powerful missiles that can be used against “aircraft carrier and foreign AEGIS ships,” Du said.
U.S. officials said the new J-20 had undergone ground tests, but it had not been flight tested as of early March.
Richard Fisher, a specialist on Chinese weapon systems, said the new J-20 was flight tested on March 1 and demonstrated the enhanced fifth generation jet fighter features.
Fisher, with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said it is “very curious” that the new J-20 featured its new electronic targeting system under its nose. That location increased its field of view and is similar to the targeting system on the F-35.
“This targeting system and a set of distributed high-power infrared sensors give the F-35 a previously unrivaled ‘situational awareness,’ but the now it is clear that the J-20 will have a similar targeting system and its own set of distributed sensors,” Fisher said.
“If as part of their espionage, China had also gained engineering insights into the F-35′s very advanced sensor systems, that could prove disastrous to its combat potential barring a rapid redesign and improvements before entering service,” Fisher added.
Advanced sensors on the F-35 were intended as insurance for the jet not having the best capabilities for maneuvering in flight, he said.
“But if the Chinese, via cyberespionage, have gained insights into its sensor system, then it is to be expected that China is also working on ways to jam or otherwise degrade its advantage,” Fisher said.
The J-20 targeting system indicates that the Chinese plan to use the jet for ground attack and air superiority missions like the F-35, he said, adding that it now appears the J-20 will be comparable to the more capable F-22.
“We can be assured that J-20 production will significantly exceed that of the 187 F-22 fighters cut off by the Obama Administration in 2010,” he said.
China’s Communist Party-affiliated Global Times reported Jan. 20 that China obtained key technologies from the F-35 and incorporated them into the J-20
The newspaper did not admit stealing the technology, but stated that China “completely obtained the six key technologies” from the F-35.
Those features include the electro-optical targeting system and a diverterless supersonic inlet, a thrust-vectoring jet nozzle, and a fire-control array radar system.
via F-35 secrets now showing up in China’s stealth fighter – Washington Times.
There have been previous revelations of Chinese penetrations of the F-22 and F-35 projects. As far back as 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported that:
In the case of the fighter-jet program, the intruders were able to copy and siphon off several terabytes of data related to design and electronics systems, officials say, potentially making it easier to defend against the craft.
Accused lead cyber spy Sun Kailiang.
And the espionage continues, and it isn’t just military information that is targeted. Just this week (19 May 14) the US indicted five Chinese officers for a variety of cybercrimes. ABC News:
Monday’s prosecution was announced on the heels of a separate worldwide operation over the weekend that resulted in the arrests of 97 people in 16 countries who are suspected of developing, distributing or using malicious software called BlackShades. Holder said the two cases illustrate an increased emphasis on cyber threats.
The criminal charges underscore a longtime Obama administration goal to prosecute state-sponsored cyberthreats, which U.S. officials say they have grappled with for years. One government report said more than 40 Pentagon weapons programs and nearly 30 other defense technologies have been compromised by cyber intrusions from China. And the cybersecurity firm Mandiant issued a report last year alleging links between a secret Chinese military unit and years of cyberattacks against U.S. companies.
The indictments (summarized at DOJ; full indictment at DOJ [.pdf]) name the Chinese official hackers, one of whom has the pungent name (or nym) of Wang Dong, although he goes online by CyberGorilla. Wang, or Dong, has his own FBI Wanted Poster now. The others are Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui. Wang, Sun and Wen are alleged hackers and Huang and Gu support officers assigned to Unit 61398 of the Third Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. All of the suspects are charged with 31 assorted cybercrimes; if they were convicted and got maxed on all counts, they’d be liable for 187 years each (the 6 identity theft charges, if proven, must have consecutive sentences under the law). These particular spooks were engaged in economic, not military, technology theft.
You can put a nerd in uniform, but he’s still a nerd: accused spy Gu Chunhui
The case may have a rough time ahead in US courts, which seldom take espionage seriously, and defense attorneys are already floating a tu quoque defense suggesting that the Chinese collection is an understandable reaction to massive American collection.
In any event, we can’t try them if we don’t have them, and if you were a Chinese official, how would you react to the US trying to extradite a couple of your, not only nationals, but military officers? Various expressions of mirth come to mind. So why indict these guys now?
Apparently, a Deputy Attorney General at DOJ is upset that the Chinese spies didn’t stop when the American President used his magic powers of speech to persuade his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to rein in the cyberspooks last year. Sure enough, the White House’s policy was led by this forceful step: “Convey concern.” The other steps all involve speaking, talking, or, as a last resort, “increasing public awareness.” Ooooh. That’s powerful.
And yet, all this conveying and concerning and consciousness-raising made no impact on the behavior of the boys of 61398.
It’s almost as if they don’t respect him, or something, and it’s totally hard to understand how they’d come to that position.
Meanwhile, MIT Technology Review interviews an internet security CTO about possible American countermeasures. Oddly enough, he doesn’t suggest another stirring speech.
An excellent overview of Military Unit Cover Designator 61398 can be found at Kevin Mandia’s Mandiant.com. Yes, 61398 is the Chinese cyberattack entity formerly known to defenders, and outed by Mandiant to the world, as APT 1 (Advanced Persistent Threat 1). Mandiant’s blog is also on point if this sort of thing interests — or simply frightens — you.