Meeting the Cyber Threat: The Case of the F-35


2013-05-15 What is the cybersecurity challenge?

It is not a one off problem; it is a continuous process of attack and counter attack, of cyber “learning” so to speak. 

It is a fact of life in the 21st century where the number one threat is clearly the PRC which views cyber war as a legitimate and normal means for their military activity.

Shaping the F-35 program from the ground up as a 21st century program is a key response to the PRC con-ops.

A fleet built to bring cyber into their operational domain as their forces come out into the Pacific is a crucial capability.

And fighting cyber intrusions on a regular basis as is done in the F-35 program is a core competence useful to other US and allied programs as well.

A recent report in The Daily Mail highlighted the ongoing challenges.

Chinese cyber spies have been caught trying to steal the secrets of Britain’s most sophisticated combat jet, The Mail on Sunday has learned.

A covert unit within the Chinese Army has been using highly sophisticated cyber weapons in a desperate attempt to acquire classified information about the stealthy Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

Manufacturer Lockheed Martin claims it is thwarting tens of thousands of computer attacks every week to keep secure secrets about the jet – due to be in service with the Royal Navy and RAF by 2018.

The defence giant has recruited some of Britain’s brightest ‘young geeks’ to help thwart the attacks, based in a secure area of the company’s counter-cyber headquarters in Farnborough, Hampshire.

A source said: ‘We have recruited a very strong team of young computer engineers who are basically experts in counter-cyber. They are effectively all geeks and spend much of their time war-gaming against the Chinese.

‘They allow the foreign hackers through the first few security levels and then can work out, through a process of reverse engineering, where the attacks are originating. 

‘It’s the same country every time – China. The Chinese try to disguise what they are doing but their guys are not as good as ours.’