Open Source Sells Planes

Another one from the Wikileaks archive, in which Japan choose Open Source European fighter jets over closed American fighters.

While U.S. weapons are shrouded in secrecy like a “black box,” BAE
Systems takes pride in “open source.”
Latham said: “We are willing to meet Japan’s requirements, whether
it is licensed production or importation.”
MOD officials in charge of arms trade with the U.S. have taken note
of BAE Systems’ posture of emphasizing the merits for Japan. A
senior ASDF officer says:
“Actually, the top secret documents in the MOD mostly consist of
information on U.S. weapons. When parts designated as top secret
black box break down, they need to be sent back to the manufacturer
in the U.S. for repairs. Sometimes, these parts are left unattended
for extended periods of time due to circumstances on the other side.
It is possible that we will not be able to use them at a critical

and just to rub in how much they value access to the source code:

When Tamogami was in active service, he told this reporter: “We need
only some 50 FXs. I have a feeling that since the number is small,
the U.S. will not object too strongly if we choose the Eurofighter.
If the U.S. is willing to open up the black box of the F-35, we are
willing to consider it.

Obviously in this example they might not be talking about Free Software as such, I have no idea if the BAE fighter control software is licensed under the GPL or another copyleft license or if it is more of a “published but proprietary” thing. Either way, having the right to know what their hardware is being commanded to do is important to Japan, and it should be to you too.


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