NSA Spied on Denmark as it chose its Future Fighter Aircraft: Report

The allegations suggest that European fighter manufacturers were also among the US intelligence agency’s targets

Reports in the Danish media allege that the United States spied on the country’s government and its defense industry, as well as other European defense contractors, in an attempt to gain information on its fighter acquisition program. The revelations, published online by DR, Denmark’s Danish public-service broadcaster, concern the run-up to the fighter competition that was eventually won by the U.S.-made Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter.

The report cites anonymous sources suggesting that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) targeted Denmark’s Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the defense firm Terma, which also contributes to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

Allegedly, the NSA sought to conduct espionage using an existing intelligence-sharing agreement between the two countries. Under this agreement, it is said the NSA is able to tap fiber-optic communication cables passing through Denmark and stored by the Danish Defense Intelligence Service, or Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste (FE). Huge amounts of data sourced from the Danish communication cables are stored in an FE data center, built with U.S. assistance, at Sandagergård on the Danish island of Amager, to which the NSA also has access.

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This kind of sharing of confidential data is not that unusual within the intelligence community, in which the NSA is known to trade high-level information with similar agencies within the Five Eyes alliance (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States), as well as other close allies, such as Germany and Japan, for example.

It would be hoped, however, that these relationships would not be used by the NSA to secretly gather information on the countries with which it has agreements, which is exactly what is alleged to have taken place in Denmark.

Read more: The Drive