back to article US government charges two Chinese spies over jet engine blueprint theft

The US Justice Department has charged two Chinese spies with stealing jet engine blueprints through a series of online hacks over the course of five years. Zha Rong and Chai Meng work for the Chinese government's state security ministry (JSSD), the US government claims, and collaborated with six hackers and two moles at the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not the first time

    Mirage clone anyone?

    Can't remember what the US response was in that case

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Not the first time

      very little (if any) response, most likely.

      'Most Enabled Nation' status.

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      Re: Not the first time

      False equivalency. In the case of the Mirage clone, Israel legitimately had the airframe plans through its joint venture. When France decided to impose an arms embargo on Israel, all israel did was manufacture the airframes itself that it was originally supposed to purchase from France. The rest of the plane, which was always planned to use Israeli made avonics, went ahead as planned.

    3. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: Not the first time

      I too thought the Mirage clone was sanctioned by design, but was always going to be fitted out with Israeli derived avionics and weapons.

      Doesn't seem a close case to the one reported to me.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Maybe we need an article about what company hasn't been hacked by the Chinese? Seems like China owns everyone's data by now.

    1. arthoss

      Hahaha. They probably don’t have enough scientists to process all information they stole already.

  3. DougS Silver badge
    Mushroom

    The US government should fund 'fake plans'

    When they detect this, rather than arresting them, they should have designers design stuff that's deliberately flawed in subtle ways for them to "steal". Then when the Chinese try to copy it, it will fail spectacularly and they won't know where the problem lies or what parts of the stolen plans they can trust and what parts they can't.

    The US government would have to pay them to do it, otherwise they aren't going to task engineers on this, but that's probably cheaper than bringing them to trial (even when they are located somewhere the US can reach them)

    1. TechDrone

      Re: The US government should fund 'fake plans'

      Apart from if Chinese home grown / stolen engines happen to be flying over my house in the future I'd really prefer if they didn't fail spectacularly thanks.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: The US government should fund 'fake plans'

        They'd never get these designs working well enough to put them into service, that's the whole point. So they'd never be over your house, unless your house is right next door to where China tests its planes using engines stolen from western designs.

    2. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The US government should fund 'fake plans'

      Who's to say they don't already ?

      And at the same time, make sure that all the designs you are having problems with are the ones easiest to steal, and hope the enemy fixes your problems for you.

    3. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

      Re: The US government should fund 'fake plans'

      They did - it's called the F-35. Unfortunately someone forgot to tell Blockhead Martin and friends it was all a scam.

      And now it's an even bigger scam.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The US government should fund 'fake plans'

        China espionage is primarily being held back because they can't tell which projects are just boondoggles. Unfortunately most of the US citizens are confused as well.

  4. JassMan Silver badge
    Trollface

    They need to steal more than just the blueprints.

    If they try to build a perfect replica of any commercial turbine from Chinese steel, it will fall apart before it gets up to half power. I managed to twist off a 10mm Chinese screw by hand using a Stanley screwdriver with only a 6mm shaft.I have also managed to open out a 15mm Chinese spanner so that it slipped round on a bolt head I was trying to undo by hand.

    The big worry when the government allowed the sell off of GKN, who have some of the best alloys in the world, was that it would be taken over by the Chinese for the technology.

    1. Palladium

      Re: They need to steal more than just the blueprints.

      Yup I'm sure bottom barrel Chinese made consumer gear is very indicative of their real industrial products like things that go into their HSR which has like half the accident rates per distance versus the Japanese,

      But it's OK you can keep up with the cheap junk memes bro

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: They need to steal more than just the blueprints.

        While I agree he has an (unintentional) point, a lot of advanced aeronautics uses special materials. You could steal the design for the space shuttle, but unless you had the recipe to make the material used for the tiles or something that acts similarly, it wouldn't survive re-entry.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They need to steal more than just the blueprints.

        Yup I'm sure bottom barrel Chinese made consumer gear is very indicative of their real industrial products like things that go into their HSR which has like half the accident rates per distance versus the Japanese,

        Citation needed, if you please.

        A quick search on the topic indicates a series of very serious high speed rail accidents in China, far fewer than Japan, and that search picks up Chinese popular protests about state coverups on rail safety.

    2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: They need to steal more than just the blueprints.

      Ah, chinesium alloys. Unlimited source of swears & curses.

  5. mhenriday
    FAIL

    «The US Justice Department has charged two Chinese spies ... »

    From what I understand, the persons concerned have neither resided nor worked in the US. Does the so-called US «Justice Department» really believe it enjoys universal jurisdiction and can «charge» persons residing in foreign lands ? Or is this merely yet another of those publicity stunts in which US authorities periodically indulge in order to distract attention from their own crimes ?...

    Henri

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: «The US Justice Department has charged two Chinese spies ... »

      Does the so-called US «Justice Department» really believe it enjoys universal jurisdiction and can «charge» persons residing in foreign lands ?

      Yes.

  6. AIBailey

    China currently buys its jet engines from the US and Europe and has been trying for years to produce its own domestic jet engine.

    I'm still not clear why they would need to steal blueprints for an engine, when they could reverse-engineer one that they'd already purchased?

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Because they don't have the special Torx drivers with the holes in the tips to undo the security bolts.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm still not clear why they would need to steal blueprints for an engine, when they could reverse-engineer one that they'd already purchased?

      Because reverse physical engineering is either crude, or very time consuming on anything that may be made with real precision. All very well knowing that all the fan blades you measured were 54.002 mm thick, but unless you know the required tolerances you'll have to guess them, or assume them from variations in your sampling. Getting it wrong can mean excessive wear, component failure, lower efficiency or much higher cost.

      But you have to wonder why the idiots involved allowed the designs to be held on internet accessible systems that could be breached. Admittedly if they were air gapped the Chinese may then have looked at alternative approaches, but that's really a separate issue. If something of very high value is connected to the internet, you might as well leave it on the pavement with a big sign saying "help yourselves".

      1. Gonzo wizard

        See also the TU-144 which was allegedly based on designs stolen from BAC/Aerospatiale. In any event the simplifications made and short-cuts taken meant that it was fundamentally unable to be operated safely.

        1. Craig Vaughton

          DECU

          The crucial bit the Soviets didn't get hold of was the digital engine management system if I recall. Hence the Tu-144 guzzled even more AVTUR than Concorde did, making it even more inefficient.

          1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
            Coat

            Re: DECU

            Um, no. The Concorde had, like all commercial jets at the time, that strange invention called a Flight Engineer who did all the hard work at his panel at the back of the cockpit while Captain Speaking and First Officer Here flew the jet (or at least backed up the analogue - not digital! - autopilot)...

            They might have fitted DECU later but the Olympus originally flew without...

            Mine's the one with "Coneheads forever" patches...

  7. Grikath Silver badge
    FAIL

    "The US Justice Department has charged two Chinese spies with stealing jet engine blueprints through a series of online hacks over the course of five years."

    And no-one caught on in that time? Someone(s) has not been earning their Daily Bread....

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      The decision to charge/prosecute is political timing.

      You don't find glaring human rights abuses while you are negotiating a new arms deal and you don't find evidence of state sponsored industrial theft until that state is taking you to court over trade rules

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019