B-2 stealth bomber 298.8.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A federal grand jury in Honolulu has indicted a leading former military engineer for allegedly transferring classified information to Israel, China, and other countries.
Noshir Gowadia, a 62-year-old Indian-born former engineer with US defense giant Northrop Grumman, was indicted on 18-counts of federal charges and is suspected of trying to sell Israel "top secret" data about US weapons systems, according to the Washington Times. He could face the death penalty.
According to the indictment, Gowadia sent e-mails to Israel, Germany and Switzerland in 2002 and 2004 that continued data labeled "secret" and "top secret" that was related to US stealth technology intended for use in the TH-98 Eurocopter. The indictment was handed down on November 15.
Gowadia was one of the lead engineers on the B-2 stealth bomber project, and was originally indicted in November 2005 for allegedly selling information about the B-2 to China.
Justice Department officials told ABC News that Gowadia was paid about $2 million for the secrets he compromised on the B-2. The scientist was provided top secret access while he worked for Northrop, the designer of the B-2, from 1968 to 1986. He then later worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory before establishing his own consulting company.
In recent years the FBI and Justice Department said that Gowadia went on a marketing campaign, via e-mail, essentially selling information about sensors and the stealth propulsion system to several countries, including China.
"The defendant in this case attempted to profit from his know-how and his knowledge of sensitive military technology," Ken Wainstein, assistant attorney-general for the Justice Department's National Security Division told the news channel. He is expected to face trial in January 2007 in Honolulu.
A defense official quoted by the Washington Times said the case highlighted China's intelligence efforts to counter key weapons systems that give the United States strategic military advantages. "The B-2 is at the head of the list of their intelligence targets," the official said.
According to the indictment, Gowadia provided extensive technical assistance to Chinese weapons designers in developing a cruise missile with an engine exhaust system that is hard to detect by radar. He also reportedly helped the Chinese modify a cruise missile and enable it to intercept US missiles.
The FBI, US Air Force Office of Special Investigations, IRS Criminal Investigation Division, US Customs and Border Protection, and Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement are participating in the investigation of the case.
The Israeli Defense Ministry did not have a comment.