Spies and Industrial Spying - Leeham News
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March 27, 2018, by Scott Hamilton - Leeham News, Bainbridge Island (WA):
The unexpected US order to close the Russian Consulate in Seattle this week set off a media frenzy in this city because two reasons cited were the proximity of the consulate to Boeing and two US naval bases, Bremerton and Bangor.
There is a third, smaller one, in Everett, but this wasn't mentioned.
Bremerton is a major repair-and-overhaul base for ships, ranging from aircraft carriers to submarines to frigates and support ships.
Bangor is home to Trident nuclear missile subs and the spy sub, USS Jimmy Carter.
I live on Bainbridge Island, a stone's throw to Bangor (ground zero in a North Korean nuclear missile attack?) and a 45-minute drive to Bremerton. It's 45 minutes from here to Boeing Field via ferry and car.
Boeing, of course, is the principal home to Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The commercially-based P8 Poseidon and the KC-46A tankers are built here.
What's the interest?
Seattle media went all-out: what's here the Russians would want to spy on and do we "know" the consulate is filled with spies?
On the second part of the question, outside of law enforcement/intelligence agencies, I suppose few "know" the consulate is filled with spies. But any student of history, spying and Cold Wars "knows" this is the case.
As for what the Russians would be interested in, The Seattle Times' Dominic Gates pretty well laid this out in a story.
Gates' story is thorough, but he left out one other important aspect: the production transformation technology that Boeing is going through to build planes more efficiently.
I believe this is as much a target of industrial espionage as the obvious targets of Boeing airplanes and technology that goes into them.
The production transformation of things like Fuselage Upright Automated Build (FUAB, pronounced FAWB despite the acronym) now being used on the 777 Classic in advance of production for the 777X and the advanced automated wing production for the 777X and 737 MAX are important. These, and other, manufacturing techniques, are key to high production rates and cutting costs.
Broader spying concerns
Lest a reader think I'm giving away state secrets here, I'm not.