WASHINGTON, May 28 (UPI) -- Chinese hackers broke into computer systems containing designs for more than two dozen major U.S. weapons systems, a report prepared for the Pentagon concluded.
The compromised weapons designs included those for the advanced Patriot surface-to-air missile system known as PAC-3, a U.S. Army system to shoot down ballistic missiles called the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and the Navy's Aegis ballistic-missile defense system designed to intercept missiles prior to re-entry, the confidential report by the Defense Science Board provided to The Washington Post said.
Also cited in the report are combat aircraft and ships, including the F/A-18 Hornet twin-engine supersonic jet fighter designed to dogfight and attack ground targets, the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft with both horizontal and vertical takeoff and landing capability, the UH-60 Black Hawk four-bladed, twin-engine utility helicopter and the Navy's new class of littoral combat ships intended to patrol waters close to shore, the science board report said.
The board, established in 1956, is a senior advisory group comprised of government and civilian experts advising the Defense Department on scientific and technical matters.
It did not accuse the Chinese hackers of stealing the designs.
But senior military and industry officials told the Post most of the breaches were part of a widening Beijing spying campaign against U.S. defense contractors and government agencies.
"That's staggering," said Mark Stokes, executive director of the Project 2049 Institute think tank in Arlington, Va., focusing on Asia security issues.
"These are all very critical weapons systems, critical to our national security. When I hear this in totality, it's breathtaking," he told the Post.
China insists it does not conduct or condone cyberspying on U.S. agencies or companies, and government spokesmen often say Beijing is a victim of U.S. cyberattacks.
Beijing had no immediate comment on the latest report.
The Pentagon declined to discuss the list from the science board's report.
U.S. defense contractors cited in the science board's report -- including Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Raytheon Co. -- also declined to comment about whether their systems had been breached.
On May 6 the Pentagon for the first time explicitly accused China of cybertargeting U.S. government and business entities as part of a comprehensive long-term strategy to modernize its military and overcome the U.S. military advantage.