China’s armed drones appear to be built from data hacked from U.S. government systems

( China’s newest armed drones look surprisingly familiar, and that’s likely because their design was probably stolen from U.S. military information systems via cyber intrusions, Asia Times reports.

In December a video appeared in the Chinese military blogosphere showing a missile-firing unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, bombing ground targets. The Caihong-4, or CH-4, “is testament to the remarkable success of China’s military in copying vital high-technology weapons that currently are considered the most cutting edge arms systems used in modern combat operations for both ground strikes and intelligence gathering,” the web site reported.

A photo analysis of the CH-4 shows that it bears close resemblance to the remote-controlled U.S. military frontline UAV, the MQ-9 Reaper. The blogger who posted the video said the Chinese craft was manufactured by the 11th Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, a drone developer and maker.

While there is no direct evidence that plans for the CH-4 were hacked and stolen from Reaper manufacture General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., former National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander has said it is very likely that is the manner in which China obtained the technology.

“There are two types of companies: those that have been hacked, and know it, and those that have been hacked and don’t know it,” Alexander said in a recent speech.

Also, Asia Times noted, details of frequent cyber theft by China were revealed in classified documents that were made public by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

“An undated briefing slide from around 2010 titled ‘Chinese Exfiltrate Sensitive Military Technology’ reveals that Chinese hackers had conducted more than 30,000 cyber attacks, including more than 500 described as ‘significant intrusions in DoD systems,’” Asia Times reported.

In 2012 China, according to the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board, lagged well behind the U.S. in drone development. But since then, it has become obvious that Beijing has substantially closed the gap.

“The scope and speed of unmanned-aircraft development in China is a wake up call that has both industrial and military implications,” the board warned in a report that same year.

Other Chinese military-themed blogs have posted information about a separate craft, the Gongji-1 attack drone, or GJ-1, which also bears a striking resemblance to the MQ-9.

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Asia Times




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