February 8, 2012

12 in '12: China's role in the JSF's Costs

Aviation Week is running a story on China's role in the ever increasing costs of the Joint Strike Fighter. The story asserts that cyber-spying by Chinese hackers has lead to multiple re-designs of critical system.

Of course, spying on US Defense projects is nothing new. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union spied extensively on US projects (as did the US), and was even able to exactly copy certain designs such as the B-29, XB-70 Valkyrie Bomber and some even assert that the C-5 Galaxy, Space Shuttle and Concorde designs were also stolen.

So, this is nothing new. The only thing new is that its a lot easier to steal plans from companies due to the proliferation of the Internet. In the 20th Century, spies had to make copies of designs and then covertly transfer them to the interested nation. Today, even though companies now have internal intranets that can house their proprietary and classified designs, I'm fairly certain that a hacker can get into these intranets by finding the right computer. Therefore, I believe that anti-espionage efforts have always been a part of fighter design. The proliferation of cyber spying has only increased their frequency.


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