Sunday, December 16, 2012

F-35 Program at High Risk from Hackers

I am headed out of my office and into the conference room where we scheduled a last minute meeting in order to discuss a very big problem which was uncovered by U.S. Navy Hackers; the F-35 logistics system. U.S. Navy Hackers were able to gain remote access to the F-35 logistic system and take control. The more technology goes into a weapons platform the higher the risk of cyber attacks.

The F-35 is equipped with a very complex logistics as well as weapons system which also increases the chances of cyber warfare and may render the $400+ Billion F-35 program useless. Lockheed Martin had to roll out the red carpet for about every single state in order to get approval for the over-prized, out of budget, and delayed F-35 program which means that roughly 50 states manufacture and assemble some parts of the 5th Generation fighter jet and therefore make the entire program more vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Lockheed Martin may employ a state-of-the-art cyber security division, a luxury the countless smaller suppliers do not have and may be used by hackers to gain access to mission critical systems and could even lead to a full in-flight takeover of the jet which then may be remotely landed anywhere in the world. The armed forces have pushed to more to more autonomic weapon platforms which will revolutionize the way weapons are deployed and maintained while opening the door to a new battlefield.

Cyber warfare, some refer to it as the wars of the future, gains as much momentum and popularity as the underground financial warfare and sees greater deployment. Iran has displayed on two well known occasions that their cyber warfare division successfully hacked into the flight control system of two unmanned aerial drones, a highly advanced RQ-170 Sentinel which is also manufactured by Lockheed Martin as well as less advanced ScanEagle, which they landed on their airfields.

Those developments are cause for great concern and the F-35 program has drained too much out of the defense budget to simply abandon it the way the F-22 Raptor was abandoned without logging a single combat second. The F-35 Lightning II is supposed to replace a range of aging aircraft such as the F/A-18 Hornet used by the U.S. Marine Corps as well as the U.S. Navy and all F-15's and F-16's flown by the U.S. Air Force. The USMC is first in line of replacements and is home to the first operational fighter squadron of F-35's.

It takes several years to develop a new weapons platform, but cyber threats evolve on a daily base and need to be monitored and countered 24/7. Lockheed Martin already saw its unmanned aerial drone compromised and faces additional problems with the F-35's maintenance and support system, the Autonomic Logistics Information System or ALIS. The Pentagon, pressured by Dumbama and his defense cuts, is searching for ways to minimize operation costs for the F-35 program has opened talks to Lockheed Martin competitors in order to operate ALIS. Maintenance costs associated to the F-35 over the next five decades is estimated to top $1.1 Trillion.

This will further increase risks associated with the program and increase successful cyber attacks against the only available aerial weapons platform in the arsenal. Lockheed Martin does recognize the cyber security threat and stated that it receives an increased amount of cyber attacks on its supplier networks from foreign governments it refused to name.

We have withdrawn our support for the administration after the re-election and our latest vote has confirmed our stand. The terms have been violated and we made our intentions clear in November of 2008. Lockheed Martin tries to hold on the the revenue stream, but given their recent disappointments with the Sentinel and now with the Lightning II it may time to interfere with their board room and seek a more active role for ourselves. I am please to get the final results of the vote, a go ahead in seeking three seats at the Board of Directors at Lockheed Martin. I am headed out of the conference room in order to get to work on the fresh plans of action.

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