China rejected allegations it stole F-35 stealth fighter plans as “groundless”, after a new stack of documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden was published by a German magazine.
Claims regarding the theft of a huge amount of data by China, including details of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, were first reported by the Washington Post in 2013 and were acknowledged by the Pentagon – without an official statement being made.
The documents published by German magazine Der Spiegel included a classified US government presentation that said China stole “many terabytes” of data on the F-35 programme.
According to defence experts, some of China’s stealth jets had a similar design to the F-35, which might explain the radar designs and engine schematics that were allegedly stolen.
"The so-called evidence that has been used to launch groundless accusations against China is completely unjustified," Hong Lei, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, told reporters.
"According to the materials presented by the relevant person, some countries themselves have disgraceful records on cyber security," Hong said.
The Pentagon said that no sensitive data was stolen during the security breach.
Employed by the US, UK and Australian militaries, the F-35 is manufactured by Lockheed Martin and is the world’s most expensive defence programme with advanced stealth capabilities, improved manoeuvrability and high-tech sensors.