What Happens When the Plug Gets Pulled?

What Happens When the Plug Gets Pulled? (Source thetrumpet.com) America’s military is also hugely vulnerable. Perhaps nothing symbolizes this vulnerability better than the F-35. The U.S. Air Force has bet its future on the F-35. With a total projected cost of around $1.3 trillion, the fighter jet is the most expensive weapons system in history. The United States military plans to buy around 2,500 of these planes. In fact, it plans to own more F-35s than all other manned aircraft put together. This plane is high-tech. It is stealthy. Its pilots wear virtual reality helmets (costing $400,000 each) that allow them to see through walls of the aircraft. If the pilot looks down, for example, images of the ground below appear on his helmet’s visor from infrared cameras mounted on the outside of the airplane. These capabilities require a powerful computer in the plane. Its designers went all out on computer control—the software is far more complicated than any other fighter ever built. All the instructions the pilot gives to the plane—ascend, bank left, etc.—pass through this computer. The computer controls all the weapons systems. The computer detects when a part is failing or is due to be replaced, orders a replacement and tells the ground crew where to fit it. That’s the theory. In practice, all these IT systems have been a nightmare. The U.S. has already rolled out approximately 100 F-35s. But its main cannon cannot fire. The cannon is there, but the software to run it is not finished. But most disturbing is its huge vulnerability to cyberattack. The U.S. military has been incredibly complacent. It has barely tried to take effective measures at defense. Civilian planners have been even worse. This points to a deeper sickness. America’s leaders, military planners and citizens are acting on the assumption they will never have to fight a war with another major power. The whole defense doctrine is geared around fighting a terrorist network, or maybe an Iran or North Korea. If you only expect to be fighting Third or maybe Second World countries, cybersecurity is a nuisance, but not a life-threatening danger. Last year, top defense journalists P. W. Singer and August Cole decided to write a novel about what America’s next war could look like. With hundreds of footnotes, their book Ghost Fleet “can come across as a 400-page warning,” as the tech magazine Wired wrote. In the book, China launches a surprise attack on the U.S. The first shot of this war is against an American satellite (a subject we addressed in our February 2016 issue: “ The Final Military Frontier.” At the same time, the Chinese launch a massive cyberattack. With the U.S. now completely blind, China launches carrier-killer missiles and destroys America’s Pacific Fleet. As the combined Russian-Chinese attack rolls out—using troop carriers disguised as container ships, for example, something Russia is already working on—it comes up against the F-35. In the authors’ imagination, counterfeit chips inside the F-35 emit a signal that Chinese missiles can home in on. They are easily shot down. By the time the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff knows what is going on, the attack is already over. America has lost.

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