The entire F-35 program may have been compromised by the discovery that an employee of one of Lockheed’s suppliers planned to ship secret plans of their F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Iran, according to a report in the Fiscal Times.
Mozaffar Khazaee, who holds dual U.S.and Iranian citizenship worked for defense contractor Pratt & Whitney. He was arrested in New Jersey on his way to Iran last week. He was allegedly trying to smuggle boxes of documents connected to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, probably the Pentagon’s next generation fighter jet.
Whether Khazaee took the documents on his own, or was working as a spy for Iran, isn’t known. But it appears very unlikely that he would take such a risk unless someone would be waiting to receive them.
An Agent of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, declared in an affidavit that Khazaee had shipped boxes of documents labeled “household goods” to Iran in November. He claimed that the boxes contained only personal items.
But when Customs stopped the truck enroute from Connecticut to California, they found that the boxes contained “thousands of pages contained in dozens of manuals/binders relating to the JSF [F-35 Joint Strike Fighter] program.”
Khazaee traveled to Iran five times in the last seven years. He is being accused of interstate transportation of stolen property valued at $5,000 or more. The maximum punishment, if he is found guilty, is 10 years in prison.
Apart from the direct effect on the F-35 program, this discovery could trigger an international incident which could then complicate the already controversial nuclear deal the U.S. and 5 other countries have brokered with Iran.
But Iran isn’t the only country that has tried to find out details about the plane. In a cyber attack last year, Chinese hackers targeted a number of other companies working on the F-35 program.