German magazine Der Spiegel has published new disclosures of signals intelligence collected by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and its “Five Eyes” partners, including the Australian Signals Directorate. The intelligence reveals new details of the directorate’s efforts to track and combat Chinese cyber-espionage.
According to a top secret NSA presentation, Chinese cyber spies have stolen huge volumes of sensitive military information, including “many terabytes of data” relating to the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) – also known as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.
The leaked document shows that stolen design information included details of the JSF’s radar systems which are used to identify and track targets; detailed engine schematics; methods for cooling exhaust gases; and “aft deck heating contour maps”.
Although it has been previously alleged the F-35 has been a target of Chinese cyber-espionage, the Snowden documents provide the first public confirmation of how much the highly sensitive data has been compromised.
Military aviation experts have speculated that the design of China’s new “fifth-generation” fighters – the Chengdu J-20 and the Shenyang J-31 – have been extensively influenced by design information stolen from the United States, significantly eroding the air power superiority the US and its allies have long enjoyed.
Full article: China stole plans for a new fighter plane, spy documents have revealed (Sydney Morning Herald)