(WASHINGTON) — Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition Frank Kendall told the Senate Appropriations Committee at a hearing Wednesday that he was “reasonably confident” the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter plane’s classified information was “well protected.”
Several weeks ago reports claimed information about the Pentagon’s top-shelf military weapons had been compromised by cyber-espionage of the computer systems of top Defense contractors. Among those top weapons systems was the F-35, which is the military’s plane of the future.
At the hearing Wednesday, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., asked Kendall whether the aircraft’s technology had been compromised by cyber-theft. Though Kendall assured the committee that the plane’s classified information was protected, he added that he could not say the same for unclassified information.
“I’m not at all confident that our unclassified is as well protected.” He explained some of the plane’s information was unclassified “because it’s not as sensitive or important.”
However, he said he was concerned with the “loss of design information that’s at the unclassified level.”
Kendall told the committee he was going to institute stronger consequences “for our contractors who don’t protect that information well enough. Part of that is being stolen right now, and it’s a major problem for us.”
Kendall said that access to information about U.S. weapons designs could give adversaries “a substantial advantage” in developing their own designs. He said it’s less about a specific vulnerability than for a shorter timeline for a potential adversary to develop a similar plane.
“So it’s not as much as specific vulnerability that we would see, it’s that the amount of time and effort they’re going to have to put into getting their next design, and staying with us — and as you’re probably well aware, at least two nations are well into developing fifth-generation aircraft right now. So that’s a concern,” he said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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