March 9, 2012
Cyberweapons move a step forward
An interesting article on Aviation Week illustrates how cyber and network weapons could be used in the near future to execute air-to-air attacks. Electronic warfare specialists and senior U.S. service officials are saying that U.S. Air Force is developing network weapons to attack aircrafts, but at the same time also Chinese Armed Forces are already fielding advanced cyberweapons to attack high-value aircrafts used for early warning, electronic surveillance, command & control, and intelligence.
As reported on the article. Lt. Gen. Herbert Carlisle, the deputy chief of staff for operations, recently said that “the Russians and the Chinese have designed specific electronic warfare platforms to go after all our high-value assets. Electronic attack can be the method of penetrating a system to implant viruses. You’ve got to find a way into the workings of that target system, and generally that’s through some sort of emitted signal. The Chinese have electronic attack means — both ground-based and aircraft-mounted — specifically designed to attack E-3 AWACS, E-8 Joint Stars and P-8 maritime patrol aircraft".
In such a context, Northrop Grumman (that was recently awarded of two important contracts in the domain of Cyber Security) has just issued a 136-page report to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, suggesting China is adamant in creating diverse and technically advanced cyberspace abilities, and specifying that Chinese military also has close relationships with large Chinese telecommunications firms, creating a path for China to penetrate supply networks for commodities used by the U.S. government, military and the private sector.
China’s cyber capabilities appear advanced enough to disrupt U.S. military operations in case of a conflict. “A few weeks before a potential conflict over Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army of China may mount a computer network attack on systems operated by the U.S. Pacific Command and Transportation Command to confuse the U.S. command and control picture,” the report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission found.
According to the report, "computer network operations (attack, defense, and exploitation) have become fundamental to the People’s Liberation Army’s strategic campaign goals for seizing information dominance early and using it to enable and support other PLA operations throughout a conflict. During peacetime, computer network exploitation has likely become a cornerstone of PLA and civilian intelligence collection operations supporting national military and civilian strategic goals"
"Military operations have benefitted from the unlimited range and precision of network based weapons and intelligence collection opportunities. Holding an adversary’s logistics and communications capabilities at risk previously required kinetic options (accurate missiles, quiet submarines, special operations forces, or advanced maritime strike aircraft) to physically target key communications nodes. PLA leaders understand now that tactical level employment of computer network attack tools used with sufficient precision can achieve dramatic strategic outcomes with the potential to alter a campaign"
Reference: Aviation Week (1), TheNewNewInternet (2), China Defense Mashup (3), USCC.gov (4)