Washington: Chinese hackers have accesed designs of many of America`s most sensitive advanced weapons systems, including programmes critical to missile defences, a US report has said.
According to a report prepared for the Pentagon, among more than two dozen major weapons systems whose designs were breached were programmes critical to US missile defenses and combat aircraft and ships.
A previously undisclosed section of a confidential report prepared for Pentagon leaders by the Defense Science Board did not accuse the Chinese of stealing the designs, Washington Post reported.
But senior military and industry officials with knowledge of the breaches said the vast majority were part of a widening Chinese campaign of espionage against US defense contractors and government agencies.
Experts warn that the electronic intrusions gave China access to advanced technology that could accelerate the development of its weapons systems and weaken the US military advantage in a future conflict.
In January, the advisory panel warned in the public version of its report that the Pentagon is unprepared to counter a full-scale cyber-conflict.
Some of the weapons form the backbone of the Pentagon’s regional missile defense for Asia, Europe and the Persian Gulf were included in the report.
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.
Also on the list is the most expensive weapons system ever built the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is on track to cost about USD 1.4 trillion. The 2007 hack of that project was reported previously.
China, which is pursuing a comprehensive long-term strategy to modernize its military, is investing in ways to overcome the US Military advantage and cyber-espionage is seen as a key tool in that effort, the Pentagon noted this month in a report to Congress on China.