Theft Of Trade Secrets
The Silicon War Triology
Chapter 8 - Still Missing
OFFICE 3E210, THIRD FLOOR, E RING
WASHINGTON DC USA
"Hey Mac, hold on there" Commander Charles Keating yelled. It had been two months since the crash and still TANGO 13 was missing.
"Hi Charley, long time" McKinney responded.
"Mac, I'm now in charge of conducting damage assessment and risk analysis on loosing the Tango 13 technology. I've been assigned full time to the TANGO 13 crash, I need to ask: there is a rumor floating around that you did a project that reversed engineered a chip a while back and with the loss of TANGO 13, I am worried that it could be copied as well. Can you speak to this"?
As they walk back to a secure area and then into an EMI enclosure, Keating started to understand something was out of the ordinary. McKinney continued "Yes, you can very easily copy these damn semiconductors. I have firsthand knowledge on this. What is worse, the Goddamn companies that make the chips are selling them on the open market, worldwide. If you have a crash and then a recovery by the bad guys, they can very easily reverse engineer the whole damn system and then buy all the parts they need to build it on the open market. This generation of technology is call 'open source' by these morons. I call it a National Security screw up at the highest order. You know, you have the damn NASA JPL graphic software that was simply modified by Boeing and Raytheon to 'create' the DSMAC subsystem. Now, I'm not bitching, it is phenomenal software, but JPL in California designed the damn thing first for use on some moon rover program. Anyway, for the details you must go thru channels. But what was done, will scare the crap out of you."
"Shit, thanks. I'll get back with you if I have any more questions."
Three weeks later, Keating requested and received the complete guidance system from one of the older test missiles. This was taken to a secure engineering lab just outside of Boston, MA with a simple request. "Reverse engineer the hardware and tell me what is custom made and what are standard off the shelf components. At the same time, what can you tell me about the software and any firmware"?
Forty-five day later, the first preliminary report was submitted to Keating.
"All printed circuit boards are custom and built at Raytheon, Arizona. All but four components are off the shelf and can be purchased from Radio Shack. The remaining 4 components are associated with the Motorola microprocessor program." The list went on and on, all components were "off the shelf" items from Texas Instruments and National Silicon, the prime vendors.
However, what unnerved Keating the most was the description of the firmware (i.e. embedded software). "By removing the CPU and attaching a debugging cable to our test computer," the test engineer explained "we were able to obtain a memory map of the complete system. By running this thru the new Borland De-Compiler, we were able to determine that the 'Operating System' is the MIT's RESIS OS written in 'C'."
"The DSMAC system was not the JPL version but an enhanced version of it. But more is to come on this."
"The TERCOM system appears to be written by some team at the University of California San Diego (maybe) and the drivers for sure match the General Dynamics versions. More to come on this."
"One important note for you, all software was written in 'C' using the Borland Integrated Development Environment 2.02 (the Compiler) and therefore the Borland De-Compiler will work wonders on this! Oh, this also can be purchased 'off the shelf'."
"Yea, the architecture matched the Raytheon test bed exactly, visa ve, second generation modifications of the Fairchild's prototype of the JPL "Moon Rover" micro-controller program."
"Shit we have to find Tango 13."
KEATIN'S MOUNTAIN SIDE HOME
POMONA, CA USA
Now, great ideas come from many sources and usually from unexpected sources. The first serious lead on where Tango 13 was came from a request for help from Keating's 6-year-old grandson, Ronnie. As a fledging model builder, Ronnie, like all boys, would build them and then takes them in to the bathtub or pool with him. Ronnie kept going underwater to watch his F16 model "fly thru the air" but as he let go, the model went into a simple glide to the bottom of the deep end making turns with the pool's currents.
"Grandpa, I need help. Can you get my plane? It flew to the deep end and I can't get it now."
It is amazing when a light bulb turns on in your head and proves how dumb you are. "Shit, it didn't sink; we're looking in the wrong place."
Ronnie had never seen his Grand Pa jump into the pool before, but for him to yell "Cannon Ball" and splash Ronnie's mom; now that was "just too great." But then to have his mom say "Dad, grow up." Well to a 6 year old, that's priceless!
Within 5 minutes of playing with Ronnie toy, a major clue to the location Tango 13 was discovered. No matter what direction the model landed on the surface, the pool currents would turn it to go with the current. No matter if the model was full of water or completely empty; it would sink and go into a shallow glide.
"Master Ron, you get Ice Cream for dinner tonight". Keating called a staff member and ask him to setup a meeting with the Boeing component engineers. "Find someone at Raytheon who would know what the glide ratio of Tango 13 would be under water." Simulations were made; scenarios were discussed; currents were plotted and 11 days later, Tango 13 was discovered in 3,400 feet of water, 27 miles south southwest of where she entered. A Navy, deep-water salvage sub located her and brought her back to the surface.
A week later, technicians started cleaning the feathers out of Tango 13.