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How US software ended up powering Chinese assault helicopters

Submitted by: kgb999 2012-07-04 05:10:53


This is a pretty stunning story - and a pretty easy read.

Kind of gives lie to the idea this massive buildup of MIC contractors somehow increases national security.

In 2002, United Technologies Corporation was coming off its most profitable year ever. The various units of UTC, which owns businesses ranging from helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky to Otis (“the world’s leading manufacturer, installer, and maintainer of elevators”), had a net income of $1.9 billion off $27.8 billion in sales in 2001. Pratt & Whitney, the aircraft engine unit of UTC, was poised to bring in billions more from defense contracts, supplying the engines for Lockheed-Martin’s F-22 Raptor, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, and the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane.

But there were still opportunities to make even more money. One of the most promising came from Pratt & Whitney’s Canadian subsidiary, which had a risky plan to open up an entirely new market—China. Large risks were involved, however: the program was shrouded in secrecy, for one. It also involved working with partners who had a reputation for ripping off technology.

And it just happened to be illegal.

Pratt & Whitney Canada wanted to help China's state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) develop the Z-10—China’s first modern attack helicopter, comparable to the US Army’s AH-64 Apache. While operating under the cover story that this was a “dual use” helicopter—built both for civilian and military purposes—at least some people in Pratt & Whitney Canada’s marketing and export team knew exactly what they were getting into.


[-] Obey or not obey 2012-07-03 22:03   (permalink)

Love the conclusion -
After news of the (55 million dollar settlement) agreement broke, the company’s stock price... was up.

If a developer had snuck the software out in his briefcase and passed it to the Chinese surreptitiously in a seedy hotel room, THAT would have been treason, with a life sentence. When Pratt and Whitney SHIP the software to China, hey, they just need to pay the government a nominal fee and then go on with business as usual. Ha.

Reminds me a bit of that other story - about finding back doors in Chinese made chips in US military equipment, chips that can then be used for a massive stuxnet attack. Wonderful. Love that free trade...
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[-] kgb999 2012-07-03 23:42   (permalink)
Yeah boy ... open it up!

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