East Asia Correspondent – David McDonald
Leaked U.S. Navy Information Highly Likely To Harm U.S. Operations
It is highly likely that sensitive U.S. navy information leaked to China by Edward Lin will harm U.S. operations. However, it is virtually certain that the U.S. Navy is establishing countermeasures to combat the leak. The information leaked pertains to the SIGINT collection abilities of the EP3-E Aries II aircraft.
U.S. Navy officials arrested U.S. Naval Officer Edward Lin on accusations of leaking sensitive military information to the Taiwanese and Chinese governments. The information leaked discusses the details of the EP3-E Aries II aircraft and its signal intelligence collection capabilities. According to Navy officials, information related to the aircraft is important because it could help adversaries conduct counter intelligence.[i] The U.S. has used the EP3-E Aries II aircraft to conduct intelligence-gathering operations in the South China Sea since before 2001, when an Aries collided with a Chinese fighter jet.[ii] The aircraft is equipped with a Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) radar system, which allows it to scope out enemy submarines.[iii]
It is unknown whether Lin sent disseminated the information to China, but reports confirmed that he sent information to Taiwan. According to Wu Shang-su, a research fellow at Nanyang Technological University, “espionage efforts by China could also be channeled through Taiwan.”[iv] It is likely that Taiwan is a way station for the leaked information, and that Taiwan will send it to China.
Lin enlisted in the Navy in 1999 and renounced his Taiwanese citizenship. During his time, was a sensor coordinator for the EP3-E Aries and a department head for the Hawaii-based Special Projects Control Squadron, Two Wizards. He managed the SIGINT collection for the aircraft.[v] From 2012 to 2014, Lin served as Congressional Liaison for the Assistant Secretary of Navy for Finance Management and Comptroller.[vi] The Navy has held Lin in a consolidated brig in Virginia after authorities arrested him at the Honolulu International Airport in summer 2015.[vii] The U.S. Navy charged him with two specifications of espionage, three specifications of attempted espionage, hiring a prostitute for sex, committing adultery, falsifying federal travel records.[viii]
The analytic confidence for this assessment is medium. The analyst did not use analytic methodologies for this analysis. Source reliability is medium with no conflict among sources and information from the past few months. The analyst’s expertise on the topic is minimal. The analyst worked alone with some casual discussion among team members. The task complexity is somewhat complex and the time constraint was demanding.