WASHINGTON — Designs for many of the nation's most sensitive advanced weapons systems have been compromised by Chinese hackers, the Washington Post reported Monday, citing a report prepared for the Pentagon and unnamed officials from government and the defense industry.
Among more than two dozen major weapons systems whose designs were breached were programs critical to U.S. missile defenses and combat aircraft and ships, according to a previously undisclosed section of a confidential report prepared by the Defense Science Board for Pentagon leaders.
Experts warn that the electronic intrusions gave China access to advanced technology that could accelerate the development of its weapons systems and weaken the U.S. military advantage in a future conflict.
The Defense Science Board, a senior advisory group composed of government and civilian experts, did not accuse the Chinese of stealing the designs. 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 U.S. defense contractors and government agencies.
The significance and extent of the targets help explain why the Obama administration has escalated its warnings to China to stop what Washington sees as rampant cybertheft.
In March, the advisory panel warned in the public version of its report that the Pentagon is unprepared to counter a full-scale cyberwar.
The list of compromised weapons designs is contained in a confidential version of the report, and it was provided to the Washington Post.
Some of the weapons form the backbone of the Pentagon's regional missile defense for Asia, Europe and the Persian Gulf.