Illegal software export helped China develop its first attack helicopter


Officials of Pratt & Whitney Canada, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., had two key concerns as they started to purse a potential $2 billion helicopter engine market in China: profits and credibility.

United Technologies pleaded guilty on June 28 to violating the Arms Export Control Act and making false statements in connection with exports of software China used to develop its first attack helicopter. A federal investigation showed that while Pratt & Whitney Canada wanted to capture the Chinese civilian helicopter market, the price of entry was helping China develop a military attack helicopter.

The United States has prohibited the export of military hardware and software to China since 1989, but in pursuit of what was potentially a huge stake in the Chinese civilian aviation market, Pratt & Whitney Canada turned a “blind eye” to China’s use of the technology as it worked to help that country ostensibly develop a dual use military/civil helicopter, the Justice Department charged.

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