UK F-35 secrets said leaked after Tinder account hacked

Royal Air Force says ‘fortunately little information disclosed’ to unnamed third party seeking info on stealth jets; Israel has at least a dozen of them

Israel's three newest F-35 stealth fighter jets on their way to Israel in April 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israel's three newest F-35 stealth fighter jets on their way to Israel in April 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

A British Royal Air Force airwoman had her Tinder dating account hacked, leading to secrets about the country’s new F-35 fighter jets being leaked, according to a Sunday report in the UK’s Daily Mail.

The RAF confirmed to the Mail that some information about the top secret planes was passed on to a third party after the woman’s profile was hacked. The perpetrator used her account to strike up an online friendship with another member of the air force.

Documents obtained by the Mail showed the RAF warning of further online attacks.

“Within the last week a serving member of the RAF had their online dating profile hacked. 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,” an internal air force memo stated.

“Fortunately, little information was disclosed and the individual whose account had been hacked reported this matter expediently enabling prompt follow-up action and investigation,” it said. “Nevertheless, this incident serves to highlight the risk of social engineering (SE) and online reconnaissance against social media profiles that disclose links to HM Forces.”

It was not known who was responsible for the hacking, but the RAF memo implied that a foreign power may have been responsible.

“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,” the memo read.

The hacking and attempt to gain information came just weeks after Britain took delivery of its first four F-35 jets on June 7, the Mail reported. Eventually the UK will purchase a total of 138 of the state-of-the-art stealth aircraft.

Israel already has at least a dozen of the F-35 jets, known in Israel by their Hebrew name, the “Adir,” meaning mighty or great. The IDF has agreed to purchase 50 jets in total.

Israel began receiving the fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter from the United States in December 2016. The aircraft were declared operational approximately a year later.

Earlier this year, the head of the air force revealed that Israel had used the fighter jets operationally, which the IDF said made it the first military do so.

The fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet has been lauded as a “game-changer” by the Israeli military, not only for its offensive and stealth capabilities, but for its ability to connect its systems with other aircraft and form an information-sharing network.

Detractors, however, balked at the high price tag for the aircraft: approximately $100 million apiece.

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