Chinese hackers have managed to access the designs for dozens of America's most advanced weapons systems, according to a confidential report from the Defense Science Board obtained by the Washington Post. The designs accessed include the heart of the Pentagon's missile defense shield for Asia, along with combat aircraft and ships like the Black Hawk Helicopter, the V-22 Osprey, the new Littoral Combat Ship, and the most expensive weapons system ever, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet. "That's staggering," says the head of one think tank covering Asia security issues. "These are all very critical weapons systems, critical to our national security. When I hear this in totality, it's breathtaking."
Experts say the thefts could drastically aid Chinese weapons development by saving the country years of research and the massive associated costs (which experts peg at billions of dollars); it could also give China an edge in any military conflict with the US. The Post notes that when the hacking occurred, and through what point of access (government computers, or those of defense contractors or subcontractors), were not made clear. China, of course, says it hasn't conducted cyber-espionage at all, and indeed claims that US cyberspies are targeting it. (Read more cyberattack stories.)