Chinese cyber-spies have gained access to dozens of the U.S. military’s most expensive, complex and potent weapon systems, including the $1.4 trillion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – a development posing a severe “global threat to economic and national security,” according to a newly released report by the Pentagon.
The list of compromised designs is startling because those weapons comprise the backbone of the Pentagon’s regional missile defense for Asia, Europe and the Persian Gulf. Among those weapon systems are the Patriot missile system (PAC-3) used to shoot down ballistic missiles and vital combat aircrafts and ships like the F/A-18 fighter jet, the V-22 Osprey, the Black Hawk helicopter and the Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship, which is designed to patrol waters close to shore.
Knowledgeable senior military and industry officials told The Washington Post that the vast majority of those breaches were part of a widening Chinese campaign of espionage against U.S. defense contractors and government agencies.
“In many cases, they don’t know they’ve been hacked until the FBI comes knocking on their door,” a senior military official who was not authorized to speak on the record, told the Washington Post. “This is billions of dollars of combat advantage for China. They’ve just saved themselves 25 years of research and development. It’s nuts.” - Read more at The Washington Post
SEQUESTER GROUNDS AIR FORCE FIGHTER JETS The U.S. Air Force has grounded 13 combat squadrons, or nearly one-third of its active-duty fighter squadrons, in order to cope with a $600 million reduction in funding mandated by sequestration. Most recently, the F-15 Strike Eagles were ordered to the hangers after returning from a six-month deployment to the Middle East. The grounding of these jets represents the start of a broader shift to scale back the United States’ war effort, as President Obama discussed during his speech to the National War College last Thursday. - Read more at The Washington Post
QUESTIONS REMAIN ABOUT OBAMA’S NEW WAR POLICY President Obama’s speech last week represented a potentially historic pivot in U.S. counterterrorism and defense strategy. David Francis of The Fiscal Times poses five questions we need answered to evaluate the president’s new approach to the war on terror. Read more at The Fiscal Times
STATES BOOST EDUCATION SPENDING States drastically scaled back funding for public colleges and universities during the financial crisis and Great Recession, but as the economy recovers, state governments are starting to bolster their higher education budgets. Just last year, 32 states increased funding for higher education, up from 17 states in 2011.
For example, after four years of cuts, Indiana approved a $500 million funding increase over two years for state colleges and universities. That’s a 14.6 percent increase. And state lawmakers in Florida recently passed a budget boosting higher-education funding by $314 million, or 8.3 percent, after seven years of cuts. - Read more at The Wall Street Journal
EMPLOYERS DITCH ‘CADILLAC’ HEALTH CARE PLANS Companies are beginning to scale back their more generous health care benefits to avoid paying costly taxes under provisions of Obama’s signature health care reform law. Though the tax doesn’t take effect until 2018, the percentage of employers revising their plans in anticipation of it has increased to 17 percent this year from11 percent in 2011, according to a survey of companies released this month by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Under the new law, an employer offering a health insurance plan that costs more than $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for a family would pay a 40 percent excise tax on the amount exceeding the threshold. - Read more at CNBC
MOST AMERICANS STILL DON’T LIKE OBAMACARE A new CNN/ORC International poll shows that 54 percent of Americans oppose the president’s health care law while just 43 percent say they support it. This is nearly unchanged since the law was enacted in 2010. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats surveyed say they back the law while only 16 percent of Republicans support it. The poll comes after House Republicans attempted to repeal the law last week for the 37th time. - Read more at The Hill