F-35 and Cyber Warfare

Discuss the F-35 Lightning II
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arkadyrenko

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Unread post16 May 2012, 06:30

Found this comment by Gen. Cartwright, I really hope it isn't true.

"We built the F-35 with absolutely no protection for it from a cyber standpoint,"


Its part of a larger wide ranging talk he gave. Goes into a the need for a 'cyber EMCOM.' Think turning off all electronic emitters and receivers.

More at the link. He only really talks about F-35 in that one sentence.

http://defense.aol.com/2012/05/15/cartwright-savages-f-35-airsea-battle-warns-of-250-billion-mo/
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archeman

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Unread post16 May 2012, 20:09

I think that the bit about some critical need to enable turning off all passive receiving sensors will need to be proven first, and I don't know why the F-35 should be highlighted as particularly at risk in this regard. The F-35 isn't a fielded system and it plays no role in our national defense -- while at this instant there are literally thousands of receiving sensors fielded and operational that seem to escape the attention of folks who claim we are at high risk from 'programmed emissions' that can defeat the passive sensors and possibly allow viruses entry in the the aircraft systems.

Once such a threat has been proven then it should be addressed on a case-by-case basis, not by shutting off all your aircraft sensors (just in case).
Several years ago there was a rash of incidents where mutant kids were pointing over the counter lasers at commercial aircraft on approach. We didn't address this threat by telling all airline pilots to crawl under the instrument panel and quiver in fear during landings (whatever you do DONT LOOK OUT THE WINDOWS!).
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count_to_10

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Unread post16 May 2012, 22:56

Does Cartwright still have the security clearance and need-to-know to really comment on this subject? He sounds retired.
Einstein got it backward: one cannot prevent a war without preparing for it.
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archeman

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Unread post16 May 2012, 23:13

He retired in August of 2011 I believe. Now he needs to cash in quickly on his insider knowledge before it goes stale. You're not gonna get too many fresh speaking invitations if you only have boring stuff to talk about! I believe that he has the war fighters best interests at heart, but..... he is now working for himself as a speaking personality and in an adviser role at firms who also have their own interests. It's unlikely that anyone no matter how well meaning can keep all those competing interests in perfect alignment and keep his bills and investment opportunities satisfied.
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popcorn

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Unread post16 May 2012, 23:42

Why even bother with cyber stuff when a HPM burst will suffice to fry anything in the vicinity?
“What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.”
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archeman

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Unread post17 May 2012, 00:15

HPM burst will suffice to fry anything i


Super weapons just about always end up as regular old weapons once you understand them well.
Like regular ole' weapons the Super Weapons end up having limitations in range and usually require special delivery mechanism packaging and are usually only effective under the right circumstances against the right target.
I remember the projects back in the 80s where we were hardening our aircraft against EMP. Lots of systems were being left off the list because they were just tolerant of the worst that EMP could throw at them. I suspect (NOTE: unprofessional oppinions at work here!!!) HPM will be similar and won't "Fry Everything".
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count_to_10

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Unread post17 May 2012, 00:23

It's actually really hard to "fry" anything with microwaves that isn't already trying to listen carefully for them.
Einstein got it backward: one cannot prevent a war without preparing for it.
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tacf-x

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Unread post17 May 2012, 05:08

I concur. HPM will only work on radar and comms equipment that already have their circuitry and antennas tuned to that frequency band. Still, it should be quite a useful tool for cheaply and effectively neutralizing enemy C4ISR assets.
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Unread post17 May 2012, 08:54

From what I've read HPMs are actually quite nasty. Boeing's CHAMP recently completed it's first test flight. Perhaps down the road we'll see something similar but optimized to the air arena.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=ca ... 3Ssg&pli=1
“What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.”
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popcorn

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Unread post17 May 2012, 08:55

From what I've read HPMs are actually quite nasty. Boeing's CHAMP recently completed it's first test flight. Perhaps down the road we'll see something similar but optimized to the air arena.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=ca ... 3Ssg&pli=1
“What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.”
- Christopher Hitchens
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firstimpulse

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Unread post17 May 2012, 20:51

Excuse my ignorance, but what's HPM? A high-power EMP?
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neurotech

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Unread post17 May 2012, 23:37

I think this is deviating from the core topic here. HPM/EMP weapons is like the electronic equivalent of using a cluster bomb to take it out.

Gen. Cartwright made a comment about cyber or information warfare. I don't of know any specific vulnerabilities in the F-22/F-35 etc. but I do think that a using a information (data) attack is a possible vulnerability. If the navigation system in a F-35 went offline due to a GPS spoofing attack, then that jets combat effectiveness would be reduced significantly. GPS spoofing would be the tip of this iceberg. Intelligently reducing information warfare attack surface would bring benefits.
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tacf-x

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Unread post18 May 2012, 02:24

firstimpulse wrote:Excuse my ignorance, but what's HPM? A high-power EMP?


High powered microwave weapon. Basically the weapon introduces a massive pulse of microwaves into an area to overwhelm the circuits of electronic devices that are susceptible to being overloaded by massive doses of RF and Microwave EM radiation.
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river_otter

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Unread post18 May 2012, 11:10

neurotech wrote:I think this is deviating from the core topic here. HPM/EMP weapons is like the electronic equivalent of using a cluster bomb to take it out.

Gen. Cartwright made a comment about cyber or information warfare. I don't of know any specific vulnerabilities in the F-22/F-35 etc. but I do think that a using a information (data) attack is a possible vulnerability. If the navigation system in a F-35 went offline due to a GPS spoofing attack, then that jets combat effectiveness would be reduced significantly. GPS spoofing would be the tip of this iceberg. Intelligently reducing information warfare attack surface would bring benefits.


It's more than just a data attack, potentially.

If you knew the language the planes used to communicate in their AESA beams, you could spoof in fake signals with a relatively simple transmitter, and give opposing planes a false picture of the battlefield and what their wingmen are doing. I think this is what you imply by GPS spoofing being the tip if the iceberg.

But if you knew even more about the underlying code, you might be able to trick the computer into treating the data input as commands, like how the Windows buffer overrun attacks worked. You could add a virus, disable the plane, etc. A relatively simple command could tell it to download a much more complex virus from somewhere else. Maybe you could even take control of the plane.

Theoretical, but not totally outside the bounds of reality. It wasn't that long ago nobody even thought you could use the password text box of a computer to enter commands into it either. Of course, the other side of the coin is, we also don't know what countermeasures against that sort of attack are already built into the F-35. Cartwright says none, but is that true any more, now that these kinds of attacks have been speculated? And more importantly, will it still be true when such an attack is actually possible?
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