JUNE 04, 2007
The advanced technology company that designs most of the equipment for the Department of Defense has such dismal security that petty burglars easily stole a sophisticated control display for a military helicopter weapons system.
The valuable device resembles a portable video game apparatus and controls the weapons targeting for the U.S. military’s Apache helicopters. It has a 5-by-5-inch screen and a joystick controller that is used by the helicopter’s co-pilot or gunner to locate targets and aim weaponry.
The device, a valuable tool for foreign governments or terrorists seeking a peek at military technology, was stolen from a Lockheed Martin plant in Orlando Florida by burglars who simply cut a hole in a door to enter the facility located near the city’s airport.
As the leading defense contractor for the U.S. military, Lockheed Martin is in the process of retrofitting every Apache helicopter in the Army with devices like the one stolen. Headquartered in Bethesda Maryland, the mega firm has 140,000 employees worldwide and the majority of its revenue–$39.6 billion in 2006 alone – comes from federal government contracts.
Lockheed Martin built the U-2 and the SR-71 Blackbird spy planes as well as the F-16, F/A-22 jet fighter, Hellfire and Javelin missiles. The company has designed nuclear weapons and the infamous F-117 stealth attack fighters used to “shock and awe” Iraq at the start of the U.S. invasion.
American taxpayers have finance all this sophisticated equipment, which at the very least should be kept secure by the military’s top contractor. A Lockheed Martin official said the company obviously has a high priority on security and downplayed the Orlando incident by saying that only one thing was removed.
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