Pentagon Downplays Comment On F-35 Cyberthreat

By Reuters
April 26, 2013
Credit: JSP JPO

The Pentagon on Thursday downplayed a comment by one of its officials that he is not totally confident in the ability of the $396 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, built by Lockheed Martin Corp, to survive a cyber attack.

The Pentagon’s F-35 program office issued a statement that the Department of Defense was “fully aware of evolving cyber threats and is taking specific action to counter them for all fielded systems, including F-35.”

“The F-35 is no more or less vulnerable to known cyber threats than legacy aircraft were during their initial development and early production,” spokesman Joe DellaVedova said when asked about a comment by Christopher Bodgan, the F-35 program manager, to lawmakers on Wednesday.

Bogdan, an Air Force Lieutenant General, told a Senate Armed Services subcommittee that he was “not that confident” about security implemented by the companies that build the plane.

Bogdan said the Pentagon and the international partners recognized the responsibility they had for safeguarding technology on the fifth-generation stealth fighter.

He then added, “I’m a little less confident about industry partners to be quite honest with you ... I would tell you I’m not that confident outside the department.”

U.S. military officials and industry executives said on Thursday that government and defense industry networks get probed and attacked each day, but they were unaware of any specific, recent incident involving the loss of data on the F-35 program that could have prompted Bogdan’s remark.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Lieutenant General Charles Davis, the top uniformed Air Force acquisition official, cited China’s recent unveiling of two new fighter planes over a period of 22 months as cause for concern.

Pressed for details by committee members, he said China may have used data from U.S. computer networks to design and build the planes, although he said the Chinese planes’ capabilities would probably not measure up to those of the F-35 and the F-22 fighter, also built by Lockheed.

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