Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Canadian defence firm rebuked

U.S. upset with Pratt and Whitney's software military exports to China

Two American senators are urging the U.S. to take tougher action against a Canadian aerospace company that has admitted to exporting military software to China in violation of U.S. law.

Pratt and Whitney Canada, which is owned by American defence giant United Technologies Corporation, acknowledged in a settlement a few weeks ago with the U.S. Justice Department that it and another UTC subsidiary, Hamilton Sundstrand, sold the computer programs that could allow China to complete the development of its first attack helicopter.

Senators John McCain and Carl Levin, who sit on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, have called on the Obama administration to further punish Pratt and Whitney beyond the US $75 million fine already assessed the two companies.

In a letter to both Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the two senators demanded the Pentagon consider suspending or blocking the subsidiary, based in Longueuil, Que., from participating in U.S. defence contracts.

They say they're concerned that the violations "may have caused significant harm to our national security." Both senators are also calling for further action against officials from all three companies.

"While the [U.S.] Justice Department obtained a guilty plea from P&WC for illegally exporting software to China, no individual manager or employee has been held personally accountable for criminal misconduct," said the Aug. 6 letter.

The U.S. division of Pratt and Whitney happens to be the maker of engines for the oft-maligned F-35 jet fighter.

Washington imposed an arms embargo against China following the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. The restriction includes "dualuse" technology and that is at the heart of the recent case.

Pratt and Whitney Canada was angling to become the exclusive supplier for the nearly $2-billion-a-year civil helicopter market in China and took a "calculated risk," said a U.S. Justice Department report.

A spokeswoman for the aircraft engine-maker refused to comment.

What further angered both senators was that a series of administrative vio-lations by Pratt and Whitney Canada and its parent company, involving two U.S. arms exports laws and dating back years, have been set aside. The companies were accused of making "false statements or belatedly reporting" the violations to U.S. regulators.

The U.S. State Department has partially suspended Pratt and Whitney Canada's privileges under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation.

Trade experts say the case comes at an awkward time for Canada's defence industry because the U.S. is redefining parts of the arms agreement and tightening rules involving non-U.S. military suppliers.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks