WASHINGTON — Chinese attempts to steal U.S. space technology remain a problem despite significant efforts by the Pentagon to protect intellectual property data, the head of Air Force acquisitions Darlene Costello told lawmakers May 26.
Costello, the acting assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on strategic forces in a hearing about military space policy and programs.
Also testifying were Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David Thompson and John Hill, who is performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for space policy.
Costello, who oversees Air Force and Space Force procurements, said DoD and contractors across many sectors of the industry “have their best people” working to combat intellectual property theft.
Her comments were in response to questions from Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), who noted that many space companies are small businesses who may not have the resources and cybersecurity capabilities to protect their systems.
Costello said the Air Force is “continually working with our industry partners to make sure that they do have appropriate security measures in place.” However, breaches still occur, she said. “That has happened on occasions,” Costello added. “We have gotten much better, and continue to challenge our industry partners and work with them on our cybersecurity and our intellectual property.”
Companies have huge incentives to safeguard their intellectual property, Costello said. “Industry doesn’t want that going out the door either, so that’s a shared interest on our part and they are actively working it,” she said. “We have our best working on it.”
Costello added: “I welcome all ideas on how to improve that though, because it is a hard challenge.”