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US: BAE 'could have' pirated our secret Stealth 3.0 tech sauce

Arms globocorp enters grey zone?

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One may take it that the knowhow could then spread onward from Saudi to pretty much any place which can afford to rustle up a few briefcases of cash, Bentleys with solid-gold hubcaps, scantily-clad practitioners in the field of negotiable companionship and so forth. Not many people could actually use such specialised information, but there are those in Russia and China who'd love to have it.

As the Defense IG's henchmen note:

BAE Systems manufactures both [Eurofighter] Typhoon and the JSF aircraft components at its Samlesbury site in the United Kingdom. With contractors such as BAE Systems plc, and its subsidiaries working on competing aircraft, the US Government needs to implement effective management accountability and security controls to safeguard sensitive JSF technologies. Additional [Defense Department] oversight, accountability, and control would help DoD to reduce its exposure to an increased risk that unauthorized access to classified US technologies may occur. More specifically, DoD advanced aviation and weapons technology may not be adequately protected from unauthorized access at facilities and in computers at BAE Systems.

BAE might say that it is finding out how to do Stealth entirely on its own, working wholly on the UK side of the company firewall. In 2006, the UK Ministry of Defence gave BAE a £124m contract for Project Taranis, under which a working stealth aircraft demonstrator would be built for the RAF in just a few years - a remarkable feat by the Lancashire engineers, given the hugely greater amounts of time and money it took Americans to do the same.

This came just a few months after the US government, following pressure from BAE's political allies in Britain - in particular the former defence procurement ministers Lord Drayson (Labour) and James Arbuthnot (Tory) - inked a special deal letting the UK, and thus BAE plc, have wider access to JSF technology in order to support, modify and operate the jet as part of the British forces.

The US Defense IG, speaking generally of the past several years, says:

Advanced aviation and weapons technology for the JSF program may have been compromised... incomplete contractor oversight may have increased the risk of unintended or deliberate release of information to foreign competitors.

[The US Defense Department] did not always employ sufficient controls to evaluate and correct potential unauthorized access to classified US technology.

[Security inspectors] allowed the contractor to dictate what the Government could oversee... Allowing BAE Systems not to adhere to reporting requirements denies [government] representatives access to critical security information.

So the IG seems to be suggesting that BAE Systems had the ability to just move the information across the company - conceivably a matter of simply walking across a corridor, or of files being moved across the corporate network. Taking this scenario to its logical conclusion, the MoD would have actually paid BAE to launder its pirated tech under Project Taranis, and presto - BAE is in a position to sell Stealth and the rest of it to anyone approved by the British government. This would be pretty much anyone in the world, on past form.

But of course that isn't true, as everyone involved will tell you. BAE - without any reference to information it had been given as a result of the F-35 programme - is simply able to develop working Stealth planes for approximately one or two per cent of what it cost the USA.

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