When China unveiled its new J-20 stealth fighter, something seemed very familiar to U.S. defense officials: sensitive U.S. aircraft secrets were incorporated into the plane.

Defense officials told the Washington Free Beacon that China’s collection of classified information during in 2007 against Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II aircraft, was evident in their unveiling of the new stealth fighter.

Photo comparison of the U.S. F-35 left and Chinese J-20. / Chinese website

A photo comparison of the U.S. F-35 left and the Chinese J-20. (Image source: Washington Free Beacon)

Laura Siebert, spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin, told TheBlaze that the company “has made significant investments in countering security threats and we remain confident in the integrity of our robust, multi-layered information systems security.”

She said “we use a disciplined incident response process to stop any attacks. Given program information resides in a large cyber ecosystem, we have a three pronged strategy to help secure our supply chain: define their security posture; provide training opportunities that educate them on cyber risks; and work with strategic suppliers to implement risk mitigations that help protect sensitive information.”

The Chinese spy network discovered by U.S. intelligence agencies during that time was codenamed Operation Byzantine Hades. It was a large-scale, multi-year cyber program that targeted governments and industry, the Free Beacon reported. Entities believed to have been hacked by the Chinese include chemical and military-related companies, media organizations and government sectors.  More than two dozen U.S. weapons system designs were compromised by Chinese hackers, the Washington Post reported last year

Defense and intelligence officials familiar with the 2007 spy ring said AVIC subsidiary the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group used the stolen data in building the J-20 stealth.

Read the full report at the Washington Free Beacon.

This story has been updated with comments from Lockheed Martin.

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