A Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35C Joint Strike Fighter
A Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35C Joint Strike Fighter is shown on the deck of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier after making the plane's first ever carrier landing using its tailhook system, off the coast of California, November 3, 2014. Two Lockheed Martin Corp F-35C fighter jets landed successfully on the USS Nimitz on Monday, marking the new warplane's first landing on an aircraft carrier using its tailhook system. Reuters/Mike Blake

China flatly denied that the hack attack that reportedly pilfered a mountain of information about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter technology, specifically the units designed for the Australian Defence Force, or ADF, had originated from Beijing.

China called the accusations as baseless and unfair. "The so-called evidence that has been used to launch groundless accusations against China is completely unjustified," Reuters quoted a Chinese foreign ministry representative as saying.

The same spokesman insisted the cyber attack in question, which reportedly occurred before Australia sealed its F-35 deal with Lockheed Martin, maker of the combat planes, in 2014, was far too complicated to easily identify the culprits. While reiterating its commitment in the fight against cyber attacks, China also called attention of the fact that "some countries themselves have disgraceful records on cyber security."


Billed as the most sophisticated fighter jet that will enter into service, the F-35 will officially join the ADF on 2018 but will not be used until 2020. According to Business Insider, Canberra will shell out some $12 billion in taxpayers' money for a total of 72 F-35 units. It is expected that Lockheed Martin will make the initial deliveries over the next three years.

Yet in a report by Germany's Der Spiegel, it was suggested that Chinese hackers have obtained "many terabytes of data" that pertain to the F-35 model set be purchased by Australia. The German publication also claimed that among the sensitive data stolen included the F-35's engine schematic, its radar system and the plane's cooling exhaust gas, somehow suggesting that much of the advanced technology to be deployed with the aircraft has been compromised.

Der Spiegel pointed to the documents provided by Edward Snowden as source of its information. Snowden gained notoriety as the former intelligence contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency that leaked classified files kept by the U.S. government.

Chinese Counterpart

According to Reuters, defence industry observers say the F-35, which is touted to bring in new levels of stealth and aerial manoeuvre capabilities, appears to have their clones on China's air force. One Chinese fighter plane that caught the attention of aviation experts is the J-31 that Beijing had formally unveiled in 2014. Its manufacturer, Aviation Industry Corp of China, has generated ripples late last year when the company labelled the J-31 as the jet that is highly capable of taking down the F-35.