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NEW YORK (PIX11) – The Defense Department spends hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons designed to protect our country from threats, both foreign and domestic.

But a new report from the Defense Science Board concludes designs for many of those advanced weapons systems — from Patriot Missile systems, to the $1.2 trillion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – the most expensive defense project ever, have been compromised by computer hackers.

“The cyber threat is serious, with potential consequences similar in some ways to the nuclear threat of the Cold War.”

The report does not directly accuse the Chinese.

But military sources tell the Washington Post – which gained access to a classified version of the report that the Chinese, intent on beefing up and modernizing their own military are indeed responsible for the hacking.

An Australian report also alleges Chinese hackers now have the blueprints to that country’s new spy headquarters.

Cyber-security expert Raj Goel says the Pentagon faces a monumental challenge in securing its classified data.

“From the information security side, whoever acquired this information could be Russians could be north Koreans, could be anybody. They now have a really good insight into how the systems are built, and they can sit there and started planned attacks to take down our digital battlefield. Our real battlefield is no long just guys with guns, it’s the information assets that control the network, that controls the soldier and the tip of the spear.  And what this does now is give the attackers a blueprint on where to go looking for weaknesses in our defenses,” Goel said.

Why is this latest breach so critical?

Imagine America’s enemies short-circuiting, or even worse gaining control of an aircraft or weapons system while it is engaged.

The report states, “If this level of damage can be done by a few smart people, in a few days, using tools available to everyone, imagine what a determined, sophisticated adversary with large amounts of people, time, and money could do.”