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Fighter jet ‘one of most cyber tested weapons systems in US defence inventory’

The F-35 has been described as a flying computer.

The cutting-edge F-35 stealth fighter jet is probably one of the most cyber tested weapons systems that exists in the US department of defence inventory, it has been claimed.

With almost nine million lines of software code contained within it, the warplane has previously been described by Britain’s Lightning Force as essentially a flying computer.

The multimillion-pound supersonic F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is considered to be one of the most sophisticated aircraft ever developed.

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One of the UK’s first F-35B Lightning II aircraft in flight (SAC Tim Laurence/MoD/PA)

Steve Over, the director of F-35 international business development at Lockheed Martin, the company which manufactures the jet, said it is probably one of the “most cyber tested weapons systems that exists in US Department of Defence inventory”.

He told the Press Association: “To our knowledge we have passed every cyber test that has been applied against the F-35, but it is not an area where any of us, the US, Lockheed or our customers can afford to be complacent.

“This is an area where you have to remain vigilant, and we have to remain committed to continuing the evolution of all the IT systems on the airplane so that we stay ahead of the cyber threat that is very real and very existential.”

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RAF Marham in Norfolk where four F-35 stealth fighter jets are due to arrive (Joe Giddens/PA)

Asked whether a cyber attack could be conducted or carried out from an F-35 jet, he stopped short of providing an answer.

“I know of nothing there we can talk about,” Mr Over said.

The UK is embarked on a £9.1 billion programme to buy 48 by 2025 of the F-35, but has pledged to purchase 138.

Britain currently has 15 of the F-35B – the short take off and vertical landing variant – based in the US where they are being used for testing and training.

Four of Britain’s jets are due to touch down in Britain at RAF Marham, Norfolk, as early as next week, with another five set to follow by the beginning of August.

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