Report Lists U.S. Weapons System Designs Hit by Chinese Cyber Spies

Mike O'Brien

A confidential report prepared for the Pentagon says the designs of more than two dozen major weapons systems that are crucial to U.S. security have been compromised by Chinese hackers.

The report by the Defense Science Board, a top-level advisory group comprised of leading government figures, did not specifically accuse the Chinese of stealing the designs, but industry experts believe the intrusions were part of a growing campaign of espionage against U.S. defense contractors and government agencies.

The full list of weapons defense systems was obtained and published by the Washington Post on Tuesday.

It is feared the breaches have given China access to advanced technology that would undoubtedly help in its development of weapons systems, thereby weakening future U.S. battlefield advantage.

President Obama is expected to discuss the cyber spying issue when he meets with the Chinese President Xi Jinping next month in California.

Related: How the Military is Training Next Generation Cyber Warfare Officers

The Obama administration has already ramped up its warnings to the Chinese government over cyber theft.

The issue forms the focus of IDGA’S Cyber Security and Network Defense summit next month.

Among those affected were designs for the latest Patriot missile system (PAC-3) the Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) which is a system for shooting down ballistic missiles and the Navy’s Aegis ballistic-missile defense system.

Even the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which with a projected cost of about $1.4 trillion is the Pentagon’s most expensive program ever, did not go untouched.

The report, titled "Resilient Military Systems and the Advanced Cyber Threat," also lists the F/A-18 fighter jet, the V-22 Osprey, the Black Hawk helicopter and the Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship.

Related: Hackers Linked to Chinese Military Accused of U.S. Cyber Attacks

The revelation comes after a Pentagon report for Congress stated earlier this month that China’s cyber activity is a major tool in its push for military development.

In addition a classified National Intelligence Estimate on cyber-espionage concluded that China was by far the worst offender in stealing intellectual property from U.S. companies.

The Chinese government has repeatedly denied accusations of cyber espionage and has said China has been a victim of American intrusions.

In an email to the Washington Post, a Pentagon spokesman wrote: "The Department of Defense has growing concerns about the global threat to economic and national security from persistent cyber-intrusions aimed at the theft of intellectual property, trade secrets and commercial data, which threatens the competitive edge of U.S. businesses like those in the Defense Industrial Base."

Referring to the persistent hacking attempts made at U.S. defense contractors, one senior military official said: "In many cases, they don’t know they’ve been hacked until the FBI comes knocking on their door. This is billions of dollars of combat advantage for China. They’ve just saved themselves 25 years of research and development. It’s nuts."

For full details of IDGA’S Cyber Security and Network Defense summit go to

The full list of weapons systems and technologies in the Defense Science Board report is below.


Terminal High Altitude Area Defense

Patriot Advanced Capability-3

Extended Area Protection and Survivability System (EAPS)





Advanced Harpoon Weapon Control System

Tanker Conversions

Long-term Mine Reconnaissance System

Global Hawk

Navy antenna mechanisms

Global Freight Management System

Micro Air Vehicle

Brigade Combat Team Modernization

Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System

USMC Tracked Combat Vehicles

Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T)

T700 Family of Engines

Full Authority Digital Engine Controller (FADEC)

UH-60 Black Hawk

AMRAAM (AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile)

Affordable Weapons System

Littoral Combat Ship

Navy Standard Missile (SM-2,3,6)

P-8A/Multi-Mission Aircraft

F/A and EA-18

RC-135 Detect./Collect.

Mk54 Light Weight Torpedo


Directed Energy

UAV video system

Specific Emitter identification


Dual Use Avionics

Fuze/Munitions safety and development

Electronic Intelligence Processing

Tactical Data Links

Satellite Communications

Electronic Warfare

Advanced Signal Processing Technologies for Radars

Nanostructured Metal Matrix Composite for Light Weight Ballistic Armor

Vision-aided Urban Navigation & Collision Avoidance for Class I Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV)

Space Surveillance Telescope

Materials/processing technologies

IR Search and Track systems

Electronic Warfare systems

Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch

Rail Gun

Side Scan sonar

Mode 5 IFF

Export Control, ITAR, Distribution Statement B,C,D Technical Information

CAD drawings, 3D models, schematics

Software code

Critical technology

Vendor/supply chain data

Technical manuals

PII (email addresses, SSN, credit card numbers, passwords, etc.)

Attendee lists for program reviews and meetings