After a Chinese company was found manufacturing circuit boards for the F-35 jet, the UK Ministry of Defense insisted there is nothing to worry about, rendering the fuss over omnipresent Beijing spies increasingly silly.
Exception PCB, a Chinese-owned company based in Gloucestershire, England, manufactures the circuit boards that control the engines, lighting, fuel and navigation systems of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive weapons system ever made. While the UK’s Ministry of Defense insists the company is an established supplier to the defense industry and presents “no risk,” months of flogging the China-spying narrative have done their job, and UK media and politicians are up in arms over this “shocking revelation.”
“We have been completely and utterly naive about the role of China and it is only now that people are beginning to wake up,” former Tory defense minister Sir Gerald Howarth told the Telegraph, expressing concern about Chinese involvement in a classified defense program.
“I think it’s breathtaking,” Tory MP and army reservist Bob Seely told SkyNews. “It’s not a question of: Is this bad? But it’s a question of: how bad is it?”
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Exception PCB was bought by Shenzhen Fastprint in 2013, has never concealed its Chinese ownership and has also worked on the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet and the Apache attack helicopter, among other sensitive programs. A director from the company told SkyNews there are “clear firewalls in place” between the Exception and its Chinese owners, that the company only produces bare circuit boards, and that no additional electronic information is supplied. But Lockheed Martin didn’t seem so sure, informing Sky that “like all components of the F-35,” the circuit boards “are inspected repeatedly at each stage of manufacture.”
“Exception PCB has no visibility or access to any sensitive program information and there is limited to no risk associated with their minimal role in the program,” Lockheed said,