Some of the weapons form the backbone of the Pentagon’s regional missile defense for Asia, Europe and the Persian Gulf. The designs included those for the advanced Patriot missile system, known as PAC-3; an Army system for shooting down ballistic missiles, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD; and the Navy’s Aegis ballistic-missile defense system.Also identified in the report are vital combat aircraft and ships, including the F/A-18 fighter jet, the V-22 Osprey, the Black Hawk helicopter and the Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship, which is designed to patrol waters close to shore.
Assuming these reports are true (and that the attacks are part of a government-led espionage campaign, as the Pentagon alleges), from the Chinese point of view hacking American defense companies makes a lot of sense. Why spend billions of dollars on developing your own weapons systems when you can steal from the most advanced army in the world? Why guess at the capabilities of your greatest rival when you can sneak through electronic passageways to ascertain many of its strengths and weaknesses? It’s impossible to put a value on that kind of information.President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping will have a lot of face time at a bilateral summit meeting in California in June. This report should be at the top of Obama’s agenda. Theft of American military secrets by Chinese hackers is one of the most important stories of the 21st century, and it’s a serious headache for the Obama administration as it seeks to pursue closer military ties with China even as the cyber attacks escalate.[Dragon image and cyber background courtesy of Shutterstock]