PUBLISHED: 10:06 05 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:51 05 August 2018
An F-35 Lightning lands at RAF Marham. Picture: Ian Burt
A Norfolk woman’s online dating profile was hacked by a spy trying to steal secrets about the RAF’s new stealth jet.
But the attempt to obtain classified information about the Marham-based F-35 Lightning was foiled when she went to her bosses.
The un-named servicewoman, who works at the Norfolk base, noticed suspicious activity shortly after the first four Lightnings arrived from America in early June.
One defence source said: “A Tinder profile was hacked and they were asked a confidential question. They went to their bosses straight away and said: ‘Look, I’ve been asked strange questions.
“They investigated. Someone was trying to get secrets but they failed.”
In an official statement, the Ministry of Defence said: “No F-35 secrets have been stolen. No F-35 information of a sensitive or classified nature has been disclosed via a dating site. The member of RAF personnel involved is not even associated with the F-35 programme.”
A memo has been sent to personnel, warning of the risks from agents trying to befriend them online.
“Within the last week, a serving member of the RAF had their online dating profile hacked,” it said. “It subsequently transpired that the perpetrator then attempted to befriend another serving member of the RAF to apparently elicit comment and detail on F-35.”
It is not clear who may have been behind the attempt. But both China and Russia are known to be keen to find out what lies inside the world’s most advanced warplane.
“A skilled and convincing operative will aim to elicit information through friendship, sympathy and/or obligation in order to accumulate pieces of information to build up a bigger picture,” the memo warns.
“It should be noted that UK military posture, policy and capabilities continue to be significant targets of interest for hostile state and non-state actors.”
Marham is now home to nine F-35s, after a further five flew in from America on Friday. The UK has committed to buy 138 of the £92m jets. Marham will be the main home of the Lightning force. The aircraft will also be carried on board the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth.
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