Denmark is the latest customer for the new American F-35 fighter to report that local companies and military organizations involved in F-35 work were hit by numerous and frequent hacker attacks since 2008. The hackers were mainly interested in F-35 material and got a lot of it. China was named as the main suspect.
The Chinese already have a growing collection of F-35 material from other sources. In 2012 British aircraft manufacturer BAE confirmed that Chinese hackers gained access to classified BAE aircraft design files in 2009. This included data on the American F-35 fighter, which BAE is helping to develop and build. BAE was working on the F-35 fuselage, portions of the wings and tail, the fuel system, crew escape system, life support and integration of British components for the British F-35s. All or much of the date on these items was apparently taken by the Chinese hackers.
In 2009 there were claims that unknown hackers had breached Department of Defense Internet security and stolen terabytes (millions of megabytes) of classified data on the F-35. This caused considerable alarm. The Department of Defense and the manufacturer (Lockheed Martin) denied that this penetration and theft took place. But it was later revealed that there had been hacker attacks and eventually China was found to be the culprit.
China has since developed two “stealth” fighter designs, both of which have elements very similar to the F-35.