When foreign spies set their sights on America’s secrets, many times they’re not looking underground for secret bunkers or in the sky for massive spy blimps, but under the sea at the nation’s low-profile underwater drone fleet. “The technology base of the United States is under constant attack,” a new report by the Counterintelligence Directorate of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Service says. “This pervasive and enduring threat is like the weather: ever-present, yet ever changing.” The maritime drones, which have been stalking the world’s oceans for more than a decade for the U.S. Navy, are capable of a variety of missions including enemy craft and port surveillance, anti-mine operations and even “payload delivery”, according to the Navy.
The DSS report is compiled annually based on incident reports by private U.S. contactors who say they’ve had suspicious contact with a foreign entity that expressed interest in classified technology. The report covers several popular targets for espionage — from U.S. information systems to space technology — but singled out the underwater drones this year as a “special focus area” because it has shown to be a “growing collection area”. The DSS predicts foreign production of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) to swiftly increase and, along with it, interest in stealing related U.S. technology.
LEE FERRAN, Foreign Spies Target Underwater Drone Fleet, Military Spooks Say, ABC News, Oct. 27, 2011