How Weapons Secrets Often Fall Into Enemy Hands


When a Japanese F-35 fighter jet crashed into the Pacific Ocean on April nine, the abundant of the American technology behind the world’s first $1 trillion weapons sunk to the seafloor, where anyone with the proper tools may find it and take it for his own.

Us Navy’s Seventh Fleet aided with the search-and-rescue efforts till early May, were at the Japanese Maritime self-protection Force continued on its own. On June 7, The Japan Times declared that they’d finally found and recovered the remains of the pilot, Maj. Akinori Hosomi, as well as a part of the F-35’s flight-data recorder.

The wreck area seems to be underneath Japanese management currently, however, the chance of a foreign adversary within the Pacific locating and salvaging the craft up till that time was real and would have entrenched a serious intelligence success for the salvager nation.


Reading regarding the search around for the wreck reminded me of how modern history is rife with samples of one country exploit its adversaries’ weapons, reverse-engineering them so exploitation them against their creators. I recently came across on the unpublished memoir of the Nazi weapons engineer Herbert Ruehlemann, who delineates how this dynamic played out in the late 1930s: “As earlier as you introduce the latest weapon in war, the enemy continuously gets ahold of it.”

In this instance, he was pertaining to electrical bomb fuzes that he had in person designed which were dropped by German pilots during the Spanish Civil War, between 1936 and 1939. Once the Nazis invaded Paris, German intelligence officers found reports indicating that French engineers had obtained these fuzes in Spain and tried to reproduce their own copies.

Ruehlemann himself came to America in 1948 as a part of Operation Paperclip, a secret program to find and recruit German scientists and engineers to figure within us following war II. He was sent to the armed service Ordnance Laboratory in White Oak, Md., to continue his work on bomb fuzes for Uncle Sam.

At the same time, the end of war II gave the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies opportunities to steal its adversaries’ secrets whenever and where possible — as well as off the seafloor. Once a Soviet submarine sank one,560 miles northeast of Hawaii in 1968, the Navy noticed regarding it, and ascertained that Soviet search-and-rescue efforts did not find the wreck.

In 1974, the C.I.A. raised a part of that sunken submarine without the Soviet Union’s knowledge, employing a ship referred to as the Hughes Glomar Explorer. The vessel hovered over the wreck site and lowered unguiculate equipment to the bottom of the ocean, grabbing onto a neighborhood of the submarine’s hull that was then raised into the Hughes Glomar Explorer’s belly.

Sometimes, though, it’s us that unwittingly provides up its own secrets. In April 2001, a Navy EP-3 electronic surveillance plane landed on China’s Hainan Island following a midair collision with a Chinese fighter jet. The American ambassador to China said at the time that he assumed that Chinese governance examined the plane once its twenty-four crew members had been excluded from the field

Upon landing, the crew had solely been able to destroy some, however not all, of the sensitive eavesdropping instrumentation it contained. A decade later, once SEAL Team half dozen raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011, the operation succeeded in killing the al-Qaida leader and capturing several pounds of documents, however, the SEALs also left behind an intelligence bonanza of their own: one in all the 2 furtive helicopters they flew in on crashed, and elements of it were recovered by Pakistani forces.

In the weeks following the raid, Pakistani intelligence officers possibly allowed Chinese military engineers to photograph elements of the helicopters that remained intact. Later that very same year, AN yank RQ-170 watcher concealing drone crashed in Iran, and in contrast to the heavier-than-air craft elements in Pakistan, it’s nonetheless to come back to us. So whereas we might have managed to stay elements and items of the F-35 aloof from adversaries for the instant, there’s no guarantee that may hold within the future when other American weapons are lost at sea or on land.