Pentagon inspector faults U.S. oversight of BAE
By Jim Wolf
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. technology going into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft may have been compromised by unauthorized access at facilities and computers belonging to BAE Systems Plc <BAES.L>, the Pentagon's inspector general said in a report made public on Thursday.
The report did not cite any examples of any feared leaks, but said "incomplete" Pentagon oversight may have boosted the risk of unintended or deliberate release of information to foreign competitors.
BAE, headquartered in Farnborough, England, is the biggest overseas contractor working on the Lockheed Martin Corp <LMT.N>-led F-35, which is being developed by the United States and eight foreign partners, including Britain.
BAE also plays a key role in developing the competing Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, said the report obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Project on Government Oversight, a private watchdog group.
"The advanced aviation and weapons technology for the JSF program may have been compromised by unauthorized access at facilities and in computers at BAE Systems, and incomplete contractor oversight may have increased the risk of unintended or deliberate release of information to foreign competitors," said the Pentagon's Office of Inspector General.
"With contractors such as BAE Systems Plc, and its subsidiaries working on competing aircraft, the U.S. government needs to implement effective management accountability and security controls to safeguard JSF technologies," it added.
The Joint Strike Fighter family of aircraft is the Pentagon's costliest planned acquisition program ever at nearly $300 billion for more than 2,450 fighters.
BAE had no immediate comment.
(Reporting by Jim Wolf, editing by Tim Dobbyn)