A former U.S. defense official who has been warning about safety problems with the F-35 for years said a software error or cyberattack may have caused the missing jet to malfunction over South Carolina this weekend.
Former Marine Dan Grazier, who works at a defense watchdog, wrote a report in 2019 warning that the Defense Department’s most expensive weapons system was plagued by cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
He told DailyMail.com today: “There are thousands of entry points and vulnerabilities across the organization through which a hacker could access the software.”
Grazier also claimed that the Pentagon has been aware of the software deficiencies since the Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) conducted tests in 2017, but has not yet fixed the problems.
The same DOT&E investigation found the entire F-35 fleet was 26 percent fully operational, which may have impacted Sunday’s incident.
The $145 million jet disappeared for hours over South Carolina as the pilot ejected during a training exercise and was found 28 hours later.
These vulnerabilities could lead to malicious actors jamming entire fleets, stopping software upgrades, taking over weapons and stealing critical performance data, which happened in a 2007 breach of the aircraft
Former Marine Dan Grazier, who works at a defense watchdog, wrote a report in 2019 warning that the Defense Department’s most expensive weapons system was plagued by cybersecurity vulnerabilities
DailyMail.com has contacted the Ministry of Defense for comment.
The Pentagon has refused to detail what caused the so-called “mishap.”
But Grazier said, “It’s possible.” This plane was hacked, but we will only know through the investigation.
“If I had to bet on it, it would be a malfunction of this particular aircraft, and it could be a bigger issue with the fleet – that aircraft just crashed.”‘
Grazier shared that the software is a “backdoor for hackers” because it is a massive information network connected to the broader internet and can be accessed with the right attacks.
These vulnerabilities could lead to malicious actors jamming entire fleets, stopping software upgrades, taking over weapons and stealing critical performance data, which happened in a 2007 breach of the aircraft.
The plane was flying in tandem with another jet that returned to base after the accident instead of following the plane without a pilot.
“The fact that the other F-35s flew safely in formation and only one had a mishap, I doubt they would have done it in this case if there was a bad actor who could hack,” he said.
“I wouldn’t show my cards randomly on Sundays. “I would only put this out if it could really make a difference.”
The $145 million jet disappeared for hours over South Carolina as the pilot ejected during a training exercise and was found 28 hours later
After a 28-hour search, debris from the missing F-35 jet was found about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston
Grazier also explained that a general emergency remains on the table of scenarios.
The technology in the jet is top secret, but it is based on Lockheed-Martin’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), the “backbone” of the pilots.
ALIS integrates various functions including operations, maintenance, forecasting, supply chain, customer support services, training and technical data.
The system was developed by Lockheed Martin specifically for the F-35.
The American aerospace company’s “revolutionary” software was attacked in 2012 by a special team of US Navy hackers who had access to the advanced logistics system.
In 2016, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a nonpartisan government agency, highlighted ongoing security concerns among ALIS personnel, particularly when transferring data between classified and unclassified servers, and that CPEs and ALOU represent single points of failure.
Douglas Barrie, senior fellow in military aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said in a statement: “The big concern with ALIS is that it is so interconnected and brings together data from all F-35 users worldwide that There is a lot of potential entry points for a would-be hacker to break in.’
Grazier also claimed that the Pentagon has been aware of the software deficiencies since the Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) conducted tests in 2017, but has not yet fixed the problems
And then in 2017, ALIS F-35 pilots flying out of Yuma Air Station reported “anomalies,” forcing the team to ground the plane.
GAO also found in 2020 that key data that ALIS was supposed to automatically collect was often inaccurate or misleading.
Grazier and others have warned that ALIS can be infiltrated by malware that spoofs the system to secretly enter false information and take perfectly serviceable aircraft out of service.
He also said officials simply fix bugs in the software when they find them.
“It’s like a digital quilt with patches scattered everywhere, creating many potential attack factors,” Grazier said.
The Marine Corps’ F-35 fighter jet went missing after its pilot ejected over South Carolina on Sunday, leaving the plane in a “zombie state.”
The pilot ejected safely around 2 p.m. ET on Sunday and parachuted safely into a residential area in North Charleston.
He was taken to a local hospital where he was in stable condition, Maj. Melanie Salinas said. The pilot’s name was not released.
After a 28-hour search, debris from the missing F-35 jet was found about two hours northeast of Joint Base Charleston.
“Normally when a pilot ejects, the plane lands or crashes near the landing site, but this plane continued flying,” Grazier said.
“Since the transponder didn’t work, it was difficult to find him.”
“I suspect they had a hard time because [the F-35] Probably only crashed after running out of fuel. “There was no big fireball – it hit trees.”
Grazier served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan during the War on Terror, where he was a tank officer.
“I was protected, but if there was a hole in the tank I would ask questions,” he said.
“With the F-35, we created a digital version of that.”
Grazier told DailyMail.com about an event on Capitol Hill he attended in 2017, hosted by Lockheed Martin to show off the F-35.
“As soon as you walked in, there was a welcome table and the first thing you saw was a printed map detailing suppliers and invested funds in each F-35 political state,” he said.
“We wanted to remind all employees of the economic impact if the program were canceled.” [Lockheed Martin] makes these generous claims on its website.
The reported flaws in the F-35 date back to 2007, when computer hackers broke into the program and stole data about the plane’s design and electronics system.
“Under federal law, the F-35 program should have been canceled, but Senator Robert Gates signed a national security waiver to keep it going, doubling the budget and extending the timeline,” Grazier said.
He explained that the F-35 program continues to exist because it is “politically manipulated.”
“They get a program approved and distribute money across the country before anyone knows anything about the program, e.g. B. who it works and what problems there are,” Grazier said.
“When we start, cyber vulnerabilities, vulnerabilities and weapons will no longer work. If the main argument for the program is the economic impact, then there is an indication that the item has no military value.”
There is an interactive US map on Lockheed Martin’s website that shows how many suppliers, direct and indirect jobs and economic impact are associated with the F-35 program.
Texas, for example, has 110 supplier locations that create 75,120 jobs and have an economic impact of $12.435 billion.
“With all the money that has been invested, politicians and suppliers are reluctant to vote against the F-35 program,” Grazier said.
“The next time an official is up for re-election and votes to cancel the program, his opponent can claim that he supports it because of the jobs and money it brings to the state.”
“There are also direct political donations – Lockheed gives out a lot of money.” They give campaign contributions.
“I don’t see any unemployed people, but that’s a side effect – taxpayers are funding these programs to build effective weapons systems.”