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> The 13 deficiencies include: The F-35’s logistics system currently has no way for foreign F-35 operators to keep their secret data from being sent to the United States.

I marvel at how foreign buyers of something as complex as stealth aircraft can have any confidence that the system is not riddled with back doors, remote control capability, "phoning home", surveillance, and kill switches. How would you prove to a foreign buyer that your F-35 would not:

- upload all your secret flight data to a tire pressure monitor every time a maintenance worker checks the tires with the special gauge he has to use, which then retransmits the data when the gauge is put back in the hanger, without needing any cooperation from the maintenance worker

- cause all your F-35s to fall out of sky everywhere in the world when the GPS satellites transmit an extra 64-bit coded message that cause fuel actuators to shut off

- put your F-35 under remote control when a coded microwave message is transmitted directly to the plane during combat or a close encounter

Even children's toys and home appliances are routinely discovered to be phoning home and doing sneaky unexpected things. I'm going to hazard a guess that all large weapons systems are compromised —— perhaps by more than one nation simultaneously since parts and expertise come from hundreds of contractors and many different countries. I'm not aware of any revelations of weapon-system backdoors yet, but we might hear about some of them in the aftermath of the next major war.




The thing is that nobody just buys a weapon in isolation. You buy into a weapons system, which includes not just the weapon itself but a whole universe of concerns that surround it: logistical concerns like spare parts, fuel and ammunition, operational concerns like tactical doctrines that work well with the weapon, and so forth. Without that stuff, the weapon by itself is pretty close to useless.

All of which means that it's more or less impossible to buy a weapon from a foreign power without opening yourself up wide to that power. You have to let their military advisors onto your bases, to train your troops on the doctrines that go with the weapon. You have to let their logistical specialists into your inventory systems, so they can hook you into the pipelines through which the spare parts and ammo flow. Any of these people could be using their access to snoop on you or worse, but there's not much you can do about that because without them all you've bought is a $100 million paperweight.

If you're the buyer, yes, that absolutely sucks. But, unless you're willing to spend vast amounts of money you don't have to build up your own domestic military-industrial complex, you don't have a lot of alternatives. You either buy into one of the existing ecosystems (American, Russian, European or Chinese), or get curb-stomped by a neighbor who did. Once you're bought into one of those ecosystems you're effectively at the mercy of the state that operates it, of course, but hey, you do what you've gotta do. As the saying goes, the strong do what they will, and the weak suffer what they must.


Yep, nobody buy F-35 planes because it's a superior airplane (it's not) countries buy it in order to have better diplomatic relationships with the USA.

It's pretty telling to see Germany refusing to buy F-35 or Hungary buying ones in order to piss off Sweden.


Thats also the situation here in Denmark.. everyone knows its the most expensive, and not the best.. yet we bought it. We havent even gotten the planes yet, but we have also been asked to buy spare parts in advance, as they might not be able to provide them later.. wtf?. Also we have been asked to let a number of the planes remain in the US, for “training”.. this is the shittiest of shitty deals..


I mean, I can understand the training request - the US has a lot more "land we don't care about people flying over at mach 1.2" than Denmark does (which means you'd probably want to train there anyways) and if that's where there's already training infrastructure setup it would make sense not to duplicate it.

And if you're going to be training pilots... Shouldn't you do it on the exact config of F-35 that Denmark's buying? Which means a Danish F-35, which means leaving it in the US.


You have a warped view of world politics if you think countries are incapable of making their own decisions and need to be told what is best for them.

That aside, it's more or less common knowledge these days that the planes have not been delivered for all these years due to the production problems they are still having.

Esquire just did a piece just month mentioning that the plane starts to fall apart if it's flown too fast and the computer fails to detect if the plane is flying to fast about half the time.

This aircraft program still has a ways to go.


> You have a warped view of world politics if you think countries are incapable of making their own decisions and need to be told what is best for them.

We don't know what the "training in the US" requirement looks like, though. I wouldn't be surprised if it was just "you need to use Danish planes to train" + "we only have training facilities in the US, and if you want to bring your own that'll cost money". It has nothing to do with "Denmark can't make its own decisions", because as far as I'm aware that hasn't been alleged anywhere.


Denmark is so small, that most regular fighterpilot training, is already done in the US.. but having to pay billions for jets, that are then permanently in the US, is pretty bad. The high price, means we will have way fever than before.


You're leaving those training planes in the US by choice. If you wanted to do your own training in Denmark, go for it.


What a useless an arrogant response. Have a nice day


How is that useless or arrogant? Germany used to train with Phantoms and then Tornadoes in Arizona because they didn't want to fly combat training in their own airspace. Same with Italy, and many other countries. It's a wise decision since the Southwest of the US has wide open spaces where they can do elaborate training like Red Flag etc. What would be useless would be to pay a lot of money for fighters, then just have them sit on the tarmac collecting dust (like Germany has with Eurofighter).

Having a military costs money. Living up to treaty obligations like NATO costs money. Trying to have a military on the cheap just ends up with dead troops/pilots/sailors.


I wonder why Denmark doesn't buy land for training from India and offer their expertise to India in combating Chinese threat.

India also has lots of land.


The whole argument is BS, smaller countries than Denmark train in their own airspace, and Denmark has enough of sea and land to do regular training.


Most of India's land is pretty densely populated. I'm not sure if that's a deterrent


What? Denmark has all of Greenland!


Can you name a fighter being sold today that's superior to an F-35A? And quantify how you determine that it's superior?


The F-22 would win in 1vs1 combat


The F-22 is not sold to other nations, or even being manufactured at this point.


There is at least a partial alternative: you can get involved in the supply chain.

For the F-35, other countries were asked to pay into the R&D budget, with the promise that large contributors could obtain exclusive manufacturing rights to certain components. I've seen a lot of grumbling about this, with people claiming it traded cost savings for a military risk that the planes will be useless (or at least lack spares) if things go wrong for those suppliers.

This is sort of true, but the missing insight is that the dependency is also a goal. It's not going to allay fears that F-35s are calling home with telemetry or have compromised software, but it does help create reciprocal interests in the same way as inviting in a foreign military base.


I think how reassuring that mutual dependency is will depend heavily on how easily Lockheed routes around Turkey now that the US is cutting them out of the F-35 program.


That's a very good point. Turkey is obviously the odd man out on the buyer list, and it seems like a clear case of economic and political considerations clashing with the military rationale of only selling to firm (and easily-defended) friends.

I think it extends the metaphor to NATO very well actually. A mutual-defense alliance gradually turned into a political and economic alliance, and now it's not clear how well the original proposition can be trusted. RAND, at least, thinks Estonia and Latvia can't be actively defended and couldn't be retaken without bombing campaigns in Russian territory. So suddenly, the strength (or at least universality) of that agreement becomes an open question.


Furthermore, buying weapons doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is a political process. The US will use its considerable clout to “encourage” other countries to buy arms from the US.


Back in 1982's Falklands war, the Argentines sunk two British destroyers with French-made Exocet surface missiles, towards the beginning, and then stopped scoring any hits.

I once heard unsourced speculation that the French might have given the British the scoop on how to sabotage incoming missiles.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falklands_War


It seems they only had 5 total of the Exocets to fire.

One hit the HMS Sheffield, two hit the merchant ship Atlantic Conveyor, and one hit the destroyer HMS Glamorgan. So that's 4 of the 5.

I think they just ran out of missiles.

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-17256975

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exocet#The_Falklands_War


It's also worth to note the hit to HMS Glamorgan required Argentina to hack a pair of Exocets to fire them from land without any cooperation from France, which was quite impressive.


I thought that some French tech support/engineers from the company building the missiles stayed in Argentina to continue their job. Same with the French people supporting the French-made airplanes.

Edit: even if France supported the UK during the war, preventing the delivery of more exocet missiles and providing information on the missiles and airplanes to the UK.

Edit 2: Apparently it was an oversight, the French team in Argentina was never told to stop working. Also I guess the missile builder might have been happy to have a live fire demonstration of his products


Yes, I think it was a great ad campaign. A much inferior airforce posed serious trouble to a big power thanks to their great product.

To be fair, Israel also advised Argentina on air-to-sea surface attack tactics that proved to be seriously good.


> A much inferior airforce posed serious trouble to a big power thanks to their great product.

There's no denying their effectiveness in this example, but then the context was the UK was fighting a conflict halfway across the world and without air superiority. Take away either of those elements and the Super Etendards were likely to have been obliterated long before their Exocets were within range.


Nobody said it was an easy conflict to fight for the UK. But Argentina was also ill prepared. They should have waited a few months till they received a whole batch of Exocets, which was already bought and in production. With many Exocets, they could have launched a saturation attack which would have caused serious damage to the British fleet.

Furthermore, waiting would have meant the islands would have entered Antartic winter shortly after invasion, giving them many months to dig in and prepare for UK Task Force landings.


It was a gamble to distract from problems at home.

There where probably career officers raising all the issues you did and more but it didn’t matter.

It’s interesting to speculate what thatcher would have done had the Argentines managed to sink enough ships to end the first Task Force, we where already fighting at our limits (which showed just how poor our equipment and spending was, lions lead by donkeys still applied), force project is hard, force projection for a 2nd rate power (if we class superpowers as 1st rate) at best is ridiculously hard.


I have a vague memory that there were also problems with the Sea Wolf based defence system on the ships. The controlling software apparently recognised the incoming Exocets as friendly. I don't know if there is any credibility to this but I am sure it would have been fixed pretty rapidly.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Wolf_(missile)


The problem was more that the only ships with Sea Wolf - which was the only thing we had at the time that COULD have taken out the exocets - were guarding the carrier group during the loss of Sheffield.

AFTER the loss of sheffield, the policy was changed such that each class 42 was escorted by a class 22 (with sea wolfs).

The Argentian navy did hit Glamorgan with an exocet after that, but Glamorgan wasn't anywhere near anything with Sea Wolf defenses at the time.

The 'friendly' aspect is likely apocryphal, and possibly based on the fact that the Glamorgan and Antrim were both exocet missile destroyers themselves, and might thus have had issues with targetting a missile of the same type. But since neither of them had any point-defence systems it was moot.

edit: or it may be from the fact that Broadsword's sea wolf system 'locked up' during the sinking of Coventry, and was unable to attack the inbound A4s that bombed Coventry. But from what I can see, the prevailing belief was that it was unable to lock on for the same reason Sea Dart on Coventry wouldn't - it couldn't discriminate the A4s from the land behind them.


According to an army grunt friend of mine, there's a truism in his profession which goes "Friendly fire... ISN'T!"

Joking aside, I would assume current IFF systems let you define anything not explicitly friendly as hostile - what with shifting alliances, armament development consolidation &c - the issue being how many backdoors there are. I take it as a given no US-made missile can kill a US-operated aircraft, regardless of what the operator of the missile desires. (Same goes for French, British, Russian &c)


> I take it as a given no US-made missile can kill a US-operated aircraft,

I'm not so sure about that. That would require that all US made missiles have a "disarm" signal that the operators cannot override. Maybe for weapons we sell that is okay, but for our own use, that strikes me as too much of a liability if that signal ever gets compromised and spoofed.


The list of designed obsolescences on the part of weapons manufacturers and war profiteers is too long to bear.

Every single weapon can be turned on its maker, somehow. Else, its not an effective weapon.


"There are no missed shots, just some bullets containing 'To whom it may concern'".


I heard something similar, I believe reported by the television news program “60 Minutes”, but the report I remember was about the Phalanx missile defense system not recognizing the Exocet as an “enemy” missile since it was a NATO weapon.

Edit: Note that I’m working off of very old memories, and the 60 minutes reports may not have been accurate.


None of the UK ships had Phalanx at that point in time, so it can't have been that.


FWIW, I was in high school at the time and I remember something similar.


>I once heard unsourced speculation that the French might have given the British the scoop on how to sabotage incoming missiles.

reminded by association - in the new Russian&Serbian movie https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Balkan_Line released for the 20th anniversary of the war there is a scene with the French bomb dropped on a house in Serbia and which didn't explode because it was intentionally sabotaged. Doesn’t seem to have propaganda value, and I’m wondering whether it is a play on real facts or just an artistic reference to the French resistance to the NATO bombing of civilian targets.


I find it odd that this is a realistic concern on HN of all places. It's a physical object - and we all know that physical presence means instant own.

How would you prove to a foreign buyer that your F-35 is not backdoored? You wouldn't. You sell them the plane and then they have the best cybersecurity experts the market can provide go into the hangar and completely tear the whole thing apart, inspecting every on board computer, dumping assembly code, inspecting circuit boards, etc. These are being bought by nation states, not Grandma who doesn't know her router has an admin interface with a default password.

Any attempt to backdoor that gets discovered would be an international incident and severely strain diplomatic relations between the U.S. and all of its allies. At the very least, anyone looking for nextgen fighters now would look somewhere else now knowing that we have no qualms with screwing with their defenses.


It's a physical object - and we all know that physical presence means instant own.

It's more like eventual own, depending on your time frame. If someone wants to to to lengths to physically secure something, it can probably withstand 1 seconds of intrusion time. It has closer to zero chance of withstanding 36000 seconds, and very close to zero chance of withstanding 360000 seconds.


From another perspective, creating yourself a brand new weapon system that is designed to be vulnerable to remote attacks, data theft, falling out of the sky on demand, and so on, seems like making yourself really, really vulnerable.


And not to mention, likely unnecessary. Even just cutting a foreign nation off from spare parts and maintenance crews is enough to ground planes, as Iran discovered in the Iran-Iraq war.


the F-35 is only supposed to be sold to close allies anyway so I doubt secrecy from the US is on the top of buyers' minds? conversely, they'd likely engage in joint exercises with the US.


The US already in an economic dispute with many allies (including Canada) citing national security threats. At this rate, the US might have no close allies left by the end of life of the F35s.


POTUS needs to cite national security as is how he is able to unilaterally place those tariffs without congress. Furthermore natsec threats doesn't mean that a partner is not trustworthy. Australia is one of America's longest standing and most dependable ally. If the US were to use Australia as it's primary rare earth mineral supplier a perfectly valid argument could be made that in the event of a global war an adversary could disrupt trade between the US and Australia. Thus there would be a national security threat.


He has access to more intelligence then you and I. He must legitimately feel Canada is a threat to our security. Possibly even imminent invasion, or hostile action. He has the intelligence.


This convo reminds me of a bit from The Red Green show (from memory):

> Harold: "Red! We found an old bomb in the lake! What do we do?!"

> Red: "Call the American Air Force."

> Harold: "We tried, but it's in the Canadian side of the lake, they can't help!"

> Red: "Then call the Canadian Air Force!"

> Harold: "It's after 5, he's gone home."


Your wit is subtle and dry - or lacking. I can't tell, LOL


Per the briefing from Stu Smiley, National Security Advisor:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Bacon


Someone who will persist in a racist lie of birtherism conspiracy nonsense for five years, has zero credibility. What this person "legitimately feels" is so totally out of scope because first his assertions of fact are frequently provably not reality based, second there is no ability to assess anyone's feelings. Why must he legitimately feel Canada is a threat? Why can't he be lying about it just to get what he wants, whatever that is?


This is short term thinking. Allies are aware the administration of the United States can change every 4 or 8 years. If what you need are big guns, the United States is still the best game in town.


Our allies have historically been comfortable that the US President would be fairly responsible with shared intelligence, regardless of which party's in control.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump%27s_disclosures_o...


What does close ally mean?

Germany was supposed to be a closed ally, but Merkel wasn't that happy when she realized that the USA is spying on her.

It looks like the governments are starting to be less friendly towards eachother as the currencies in the world are collapsing.


Wait, it sounds like you're saying some worldwide currency collapse is in motion. What's that in reference to?


It's slow, but interest rates are going in one direction in the whole world. The last time they were so low was the time before the currencies were hyperinflated and WWII started.


The US has been increasing rates steadily.


Of course the US has backdoors. What they are buying is the power to fight US enemies. Not US friends or the US itself.


- cause all your F-35s to fall out of sky everywhere in the world when the GPS satellites transmit an extra 64-bit coded message that cause fuel actuators to shut off

This is very close to a plot point from Battlestar galactica (2004). I don't know of a way off the top of my head to detect back doors other than manually reviewing code.

A large company which has a database of many back doors might be able to train an AI to find them. I'm going to guess that someone, somewhere is trying to do this, somehow.


This is a result of complexity, not the systems themselves. Anything that is complex has vulnerabilities. It might as well be a law of computing.


It is worth noting that the dominant systems architectures of today help ensure vulnerabilities remain. Doing something about this could become a defining factor of computing in the 21st century.




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