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“For 18 months, Chinese cyber attacks had taken place against BAE and had managed to get hold of plans of one of its latest fighters,” a senior BAE executive told London’s Sunday Times.

There were similar reports of Chinese cyberattacks against Northrop Grumman, another partner in the F-35 JSF project.

“Chinese hackers actually sat in on what were supposed to have been secure, online program-progress conferences,” the Feb. 3 edition of Aviation Week quoted U.S. government officials as saying.

China has shown rapid development of advanced, next-generation aircraft and unmanned aircraft that appear uncannily similar to original U.S. designs. They include China’s J-20 fifth-generation stealth fighter and what appear to be homemade adaptations of Global Hawk and other intelligence and sensor aircraft.

Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at mmilesyu@gmail.com.