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Local Defense Contractor Admits Unlawfully Aiding Chinese Military Helicopter Development

(credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — A local defense contractor has pleaded guilty to illegally exporting military software to China in its effort to develop an attack helicopter.

Pratt & Whitney Canada, which is a Canadian subsidiary of Connecticut-based defense contractor United Technologies Corporation, and U.S.-based subsidiary Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., were hit with a $75 million fine for violating the Arms Export Control Act.

1010 WINS’ Al Jones Reports

U.S. Attorney David Fein said that defense contractors have been barred from selling to China since the June 1989 uprising at Tienanmen Square.

“Pratt & Whitney Canada knew from the start that the P.R.C. was developing an attack helicopter and that supplying it with U.S. components would be illegal,” Fein told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Al Jones.

According to a release from the Justice Department, the development of China’s Z-10 helicopter program was powered by engines supplied by Pratt & Whitney Canada.

READ MORE: Criminal Charges For United Technologies Corp.’s Subsidiaries

However, U.S. officials said despite the military nature of the helicopter, Pratt & Whitney Canada determined on its own that the engines didn’t constitute “defense articles” because they were identical to engines the company was already supplying the country for commercial helicopters.

Despite that, U.S. officials said because the software used to operate the engines supplied by the company was “modified for a military helicopter application, it was a defense article and required a U.S. export license.”

Officials also said that the company “willfully” and “knowingly” caused the software to be exported without a license.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen B. Reynolds added the software was vital to China’s attack helicopter program.

“I think it is fair to say that without this particular component, it wouldn’t have happened at all,” Reynolds said.

Furthermore, officials said United Technologies Corp., and its subsidiaries failed to disclosed the illegal exports for years and that those disclosures “contained numerous false statements,” including when they became aware the program involved a military helicopter.

“Pratt & Whitney Canada purposely turned a blind eye to the helicopter’s military application,” Fein said.

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