U.S. officials and defense analysts have indicated that China's multiyear cyberespionage operation yielded sensitive technology and aircraft secrets which it was able to use in building its new J-20 stealth fighter jet.
The Chinese cyberspying occurred in 2007, when it compromised military contractors Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman, and included stealing plans for the Pentagon's $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project — the Defense Department's costliest weapons program ever. Designs for nearly two dozen other major weapons systems were also breached, The Washington Post reported.
Other weapons systems accessed by Chinese hackers include the Patriot missile system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and the Army's ballistic missile interceptor program
The Joint Strike Fighter, also known as the F-35 Lightning II, is the most technically challenging weapons program the Pentagon has ever attempted. The plane relies on 7.5 million lines of computer code, which the Government Accountability Office told The Wall Street Journal is more than triple the amount used in the current top Air Force fighter.
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