Man charged with attempting to send tech data on the F-35 to Iran

Jan 14 2014 - 14 Comments

Besides being plagued by cost and operational concerns, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 multirole, stealth warplane has been targeted by hackers, who tried to steal secrets of the Joint Strike Fighter, for years.

Most of times, cyber attackers were believed to be Chinese, collecting details that could be useful for copying what is believed to be the Western most advanced military plane.

However, it seems not only China is interested in the F-35.

DefenseNews has given the news that a man has been charged with attempting to send F-35 blueprints to Iran: Mozaffar Khazaee, a naturalized US citizen since 1991, was arrested on Jan. 9 at Newark airport, NJ, following the first flight of a trip to Tehran.

Facing 10 years in jail, Khazaee was charged for “transporting, transmitting and transferring in interstate or foreign commerce goods obtained by theft, conversion, or fraud.”

In November he had attempted to send “numerous boxes of documents consisting of sensitive technical manuals, specification sheets, and other proprietary material for the F-35,” from Connecticut to Hamadan.

The “package” contained several documents, diagrams and blueprints most of which export-controlled, that Khazaee had collect from the company (most probably Pratt & Whitney or Rolls Royce) he worked for until August 2013.

What Iran would do with such technical details is difficult to say. Maybe design an actual engine for the infamous F-313 Qaher stealth fighter joke jet?

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

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  • Gary Smrtic

    So how, exactly, did this guy get his hands on this data?

    • Why did he bother with physical copies when digital would have been easier? I guess scanning the pages of a technical manual would have taken years of effort. Oh well off to jail with him or better yet modify the documents subtly and let them go.

      • Rollo

        Or maybe the digitalization would have taken just a few hours with a rapid automated scanner available for less then 100 bucks (and working perfectly off-the-internet to avoid any problem with NSA and other agencies).

        Reading a non abridged report: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140113/DEFREG02/301130030/ it seems that this guy has used an online printer from P&W to print thousands of pages (if he hadn’t used his own printer at his own place, in such case he already had the electronic format of the files, much more duplicable and easy to share with different means). Then he went to a courier, labelled the boxes of printed documents with destination Hamadan, Iran, choosed a vector (still we don’t know if an air vector or a camel). And then his boxes labelled with destination Hamadan, Iran, and possibly marked as being ITAR- and export-controlled information were eventually intercepted in Connecticut.

        A bit unrealistic, don’t you conceede it?

    • he worked for Pratt & Whitney

  • He probably thought he is going to do the regime a service by providing them manuals and data sheets

  • Gyoz

    This was a request from China. After cloning the F-35 with the J-31 they needed the manual to properly fly it.

  • BingTon Ting

    So is 10 years the going rate for espionage these days? Sounds a bit soft to me.

    • OG_Locc

      It’s because the documents weren’t classified top secret – they were just export controlled and private property. He would face similar charges if he were caught trying to transfer the info from PW to GE.

      “Khazaee is accused of interstate transportation of stolen property of the value of $5,000 or more, and if convicted could pay a fine or spend up to 10 years in prison.”

      • aniptofar

        As a dual national/iranian he should have never had access to the data at all. Pratt should be in hot water and will likely pay a significant fine.

  • Gyoz

    Still incredibly scary to me that we now have only one fifth generation warplane producer left in the west with a total monopoly of the market. This is a huge blow for the possibility of any other producer competing in the future and contributing with innovation.

    RAND Corporation:
    “Such a situation reduces the potential for future competition, may discourage innovation and makes costs more difficult to control,” the study found.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-17/lockheed-f-35-bad-deal-as-one-jet-for-all-report-finds.html

    The report:
    http://media.bloomberg.com/bb/avfile/rVQ4c6UCr09E

  • Bob Smith

    Who cares as the F35 is a piece of crap. VHF radar can detect these aircraft hundreds of kilometers away. They are tactically useless and the amount of ordinance deliverable per sortie is poor in stealth mode.

  • gotogo

    LM keep getting hacked for F35 information – because each time they do they find nothing of significance…(if you get my drift…)

  • Walter

    Give him the chair.

  • Gothamite

    This gives us a lot of insight into the Iranian regime. They obviously have no clue how problematic this aircraft is. They couldn’t have tried to steal something a bit less full of issues?