Pickens writes: "Seymour M. Hersh writes in the New Yorker that after an American EP-3E Aries II reconnaissance plane on an eavesdropping mission collided with a Chinese interceptor jet over the South China Sea in 2001 and landed at a Chinese F-8 fighter base on Hainan Island, the 24 member crew were unable to completely disable the plane’s equipment and software. The result? The Chinese kept the plane for three months and eventually reverse-engineered the plane’s NSA.-supplied operating system, estimated at between thirty and fifty million lines of computer code, giving China a road map for decrypting the Navy’s classified intelligence and operational data. “If the operating system was controlling what you’d expect on an intelligence aircraft, it would have a bunch of drivers to capture radar and telemetry,” says Whitfield Diffie, a pioneer in the field of encryption. “The plane was configured for what it wants to snoop, and the Chinese would want to know what we wanted to know about them—what we could intercept and they could not.” Despite initial skepticism, over the next few years the US intelligence community began to “read the tells” that China had gotten access to sensitive traffic and in early 2009, Admiral Timothy J. Keating, then the head of the Pacific Command, brought the issue to the new Obama Administration. "If China had reverse-engineered the EP-3E’s operating system, all such systems in the Navy would have to be replaced, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars," writes Hersch. "After much discussion, several current and former officials said, this was done" prompting some black humor from US naval officers. “This is one hell of a way to go about getting a new operating system.”""
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