The White House is said to be reviewing whether spy planes, intelligence officials and other US assets are at risk and need to be pulled out of Britain after Chinese telecom giant Huawei was engaged to help build the United Kingdom’s 5G network.
According to reports in The Telegraph, a group of highly sophisticated reconnaissance spy planes, the RC-135s, are thought to be among the most vulnerable US assets based in Britain.
Anonymously quoting half a dozen current US and UK officials, the report said the Trump administration’s review is underway but not yet public and could hold major ramifications for the “special relationship” between the two countries.
In giving Huawei approval to help build Britain’s 5G network, Boris Johnson insisted that the Chinese government would be barred from core parts of the network, such as areas near military facilities and nuclear sites. It also had its share of development on non-sensitive parts of the network capped at 35 per cent.
That position has been rejected by the US, which maintains having Huawei build any part of the wireless network would effectively give the Chinese communist government access to the full network.
Every military and intelligence asset in Britain is being looked at for possible exposure to vulnerabilities as part of the review, which is being overseen by the US’s National Security Council.
The review is looking at more than 10,000 US military personnel, half a dozen barracks, dozens of military vehicles, intelligence operations, and whether classified missions should be removed from Britain.
A major area of concern is over the RC-135s spy planes that operate out of the Royal Air Force Mildenhall in Sussex, according to The Telegraph’s report.
About 500 US personnel have been operating around six aircraft out of the base as part of operations in the Middle East against the Islamic State.
US agents based in Britain using personal phones and other Internet-connected devices outside the “core” areas and throughout the country may also be vulnerable.