Chinese government spies stole a huge amount of design data about Austrailia’s new F-35 fighter jets, according to US Top Secret documents leaked by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that the theft by Chinese spies of Australia’s new warplane, the US built F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet, highlights an increased risk of cyber-espionage.
Bishop told Sky News she was confident that the U.S. would take measures to guard its intellectual property. Australia has ordered 72 F-35 jets from the United States which should be ready by 2020.
The F-35 jet is the most expensive defense project in US history. Designed by Lockheed Martin the development cost of the aircraft was $400 billion.
The Chinese government has a long history of espionage and intellectual thievery.
The New York Times outlined key ways that China steals our secrets mainly through the use of hackers.
General Keith B. Alexander who is head of the military’s Cyber Command called the continuing Chinese cyber theft: “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.”
It doesn’t happen in just the military sector either as The New York Times piece notes: “an American company that had all of its data from a 10-year, $1 billion research program copied by hackers in one night.”
It remains unclear what exactly can be done to combat this threat. The U.S. government is trying ways to be able to inspect more cyber data by scanning internet data outside of the United States. Though from other recent Snowden revelations about the NSA, perhaps they already are.