Historically, most commercial technology development has been focused inside the firm. In research and development (R&D) laboratories and company test sites, new technology was expected to emerge from internal sources. Company attention was therefore directed at day-to-day management of in-house ideas, projects, and technical operations. Now these behaviors are changing and R&D laboratories are seeking more information about developments outside their walls. Market competitors (such as General Electric and Westinghouse or IBM and Apple) are now becoming R&D competitors, often pursuing similar technical objectives for improved products and processes. Company laboratories and development centers recognize that technology is available from many parts of the world and that gaining an R&D edge requires more attention to exploiting the know-how developed by others. No matter where new technology comes from, the first firm to commercialize an advance is likely to capture the significant returns.
Therefore, no one should be surprised that such recognition is not limited to the United States.
At a subcommittee hearing attended by just half a dozen Senators, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer made a blunt admission: The military’s most expensive program, the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, has been hacked and the stolen data used by America’s adversaries. Under Secretary Frank Kendall didn’t say by whom, but the answer is almost certainly China, a cyber superpower whose People’s Liberation Army Air Force has recently rolled out some suspiciously sophisticated stealth fighter prototypes of its own. The Russians also have skilled hackers and “5th Generation” stealth jet programs, but they’re not suspected of such direct copying, at least not yet.