Pentagon defends weapons systems capabilities in light of Chinese hacking report

The Pentagon defended the capabilities of the military's weapons systems on Tuesday after a leaked government report alleged that Chinese hackers had breached the designs for critical U.S. weapons systems. 

A spokesman for the Department of Defense said the Pentagon has taken steps to protect itself from hackers, and that cybercrimes had not compromised U.S. weapon systems.

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"Suggestions that cyber intrusions have somehow led to the erosion of our capabilities or technological edge are incorrect," Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement. He added that DOD has "full confidence" in its weapons platforms.

His comments come after The Washington Post revealed that a secret Defense Science Board report found that Chinese hackers had compromised the blueprints for more than two dozen critical weapons systems, such as the V-22 Osprey and the F/A-18 and F-22 fighter jets. 

The confidential report warned that the hackers could use the information to weaken the effectiveness of these weapons in future conflicts and aid China's efforts to develop competing weapons systems. 

White House press secretary Jay Carney said cybersecurity is a key concern to the administration, and it will likely be a topic that President Obama will discuss with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting of the two leaders next month. Carney added that Tom Donilon, the president's national security adviser, discussed the issue of cybersecurity during his recent meetings in China. 

"It is an issue that we raise at every level in our meetings with our Chinese counterparts, and I’m sure will be a topic of discussion when the president meets with President Xi in California in early June," Carney said. "It was certainly a topic of conversation when National Security Advisor Donilon was having meetings in China, from which he is just returning now."

Little said the Pentagon took the threat of cyberespionage very seriously and had taken a number of steps to increase funding "to strengthen our capabilities, harden our networks, and work with the defense industrial base to achieve greater visibility into the threats our industrial partners are facing."

The Obama administration has escalated its tone towards China over the past year about hacker attacks against U.S. government and commercial computer systems that stem within its borders. In a report released earlier this month, the Pentagon accused the Chinese government and military of cracking into U.S. government computer systems to steal valuable intelligence. 

In a speech this spring, Donilon called on China to recognize the "urgency and scope" of the hacking problem and to take "serious steps" to clamp down on the hackers working within the country.