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Defence firm Elbit shoots down 'hysterical' claims of espionage

Business

Defence firm Elbit Systems has rejected any involvement in damaging claims of espionage relating to its battle management system which is used by the Australian Army.

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The Brisbane-based Elbit, which is a subsidiary of an Israeli defence company, has been dragged in claims that there was a backdoor in software that had meant it had been taken off Army hardware.

The claims have thrown Elbit into a crisis over the issue which spilled into Senate estimates today. The ABC also reported this morning that the British military had asked the Australian Defence Force about possible risks involved in the system.

Elbit’s managing director Paul McLachlan said he was not surprised by the UK request but he had been surprised by some of the testimony in Senate estimates about the issue.

“What I characterise as hysterical was the shrill claim that it was a deliberate espionage,” he said.

“My understanding is it is not a project of concern and I have been informed on that by very senior people.

“There are concerns (about it being pulled off some hardware) and there have been discussions about that in estimates.

“No, there is no backdoor. Once again, quite clearly we do not do that. I refute there is any backdoor.

“Unnamed, unsubstantiated sources are the ones that frankly that have been responsible for the shrill and hysterical allegations about us being involved in espionage.”

He said there were vulnerabilities with the software, but that was normal. He also revealed there was no firewall on the system because there was no requirement for one, but Elbit was now in the process of building one.

It was also completely revising its IT and oreign ownership arrangements.

“I think any people who write combat software that is going to be deliberately attacked by an opponent that tells you there are never any vulnerabilities anywhere would be gilding the lily,” he said.

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has also said the contract with Elbit for its battle management system was still in place.

Elbit has been working with the ADF for about a decade on the battle management system.

 

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