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Chinese hackers in action. How China stole the technology of F-22 and F-35 fighters, and now hunts US pilots

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jun23,2024

Chinese hackers in action. How China stole the technology of F-22 and F-35 fighters, and now hunts US pilots

The PRC is going to great lengths to obtain classified information about the United States military's newest and most advanced platforms. After stealing aviation data, they began recruiting pilots, Five Eyes intelligence warns.

Chinese hackers helped Beijing obtain classified technical specifications of Lockheed Martin's fifth-generation F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II aircraft. Now Beijing wants access to pilot training.

Focus translated an article by Peter Suchiu on how China is hunting American aces.

China is actively seeking to strengthen its military capabilities by recruiting experienced military personnel from NATO and the West, including pilots.

  • The People's Liberation Army (PLA) uses front companies to recruit former Western military personnel, which poses a significant risk for security, as it reveals information about Western air combat tactics and techniques.
  • The intelligence partners, collectively known as Five Eyes, issued a joint bulletin warning of the threat and recommending vigilance for similar recruitment efforts that could lead to legal consequences for those involved.

< h2>Chinese Air Force is actively recruiting NATO pilots: Five Eyes warning

It's no secret that the People's Republic of China (PRC) and its ruling Communist Party of China (CCP) go to great lengths to obtain classified information about the United States military's newest and most advanced platforms. As The National Interest previously reported, Chinese hackers helped Beijing obtain the secret technical specifications of Lockheed Martin's fifth-generation F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II aircraft, and then this information was used in Chengdu's J-20 Mighty Dragon fighter .

Furthermore, hackers were reported to have penetrated dozens of chemical and defense companies to steal trade secrets. Beijing is believed to have stolen literally everything – from nuclear weapons secrets to genetically modified seeds!

However, it is not only data theft that should cause serious concern to the US military and poses a real threat to the national security of the US and its closest allies.

Last week, intelligence partners Five Eyes – USA, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – issued a joint bulletin warning that the People's Liberation Army of China (PLA) is actively recruiting experienced military personnel, including pilots.

The bulletin states that the PLA “continues to seek current and former military personnel from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and other Western countries to strengthen the PLA's capabilities.” In addition, the Chinese military has established private companies not only in China but also in South Africa to recruit former fighter pilots from the West.

“The PLA wants to gain the skills and experience of these people to make its own military air operations more effective, while learning Western air tactics, techniques and procedures. The knowledge the PLA is getting from Western militaries threatens the safety of the recruits themselves, their fellow servicemen, and the security of the United States and its allies”, – emphasized later in the newsletter.

In many cases, the “nefarious recruitment efforts” may not be obvious because the front companies do not advertise the role of China or the PLA. They are reported to be offering lucrative contracts with vague details about the real customer.

Five Eyes warns that while Chinese pilots may not be trained in actual combat skills, they could still increase the risk of undermining the West's deterrence capacity in a future conflict. In addition, recruits may face legal charges.

“Those who provide unauthorized training or expert services to foreign militaries may face civil and criminal prosecution,” – warned in the bulletin. Anyone contacted by a foreign recruiter is strongly encouraged to report this to the authorities, and current and former military personnel – exercise caution when making past employment information publicly available, as it can be monitored by the Air Force.

This bulletin comes less than a year after two US Navy sailors were accused of passing classified information to the Chinese operatives, and the third sailor – chief foreman – convicted in April of providing documents to a foreign government official.

The foreign country was not named, but it was also speculated to be China.

About the author

Peter Suchiu &ndash ; journalist from Michigan. During his twenty-year journalistic career, he participated in the work of more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites, publishing more than 3,200 materials. He writes regularly on military technology, firearms history, cyber security, politics and international affairs. Peter has also contributed articles to Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. Email the author at: Editor@nationalinterest.org

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my natasha@thetimeshub.in 1-800-268-7116

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