Honeywell fined millions for exporting sensitive information on F-22s, F-35s and more to China (update)

Honeywell reportedly made unauthorized exports of designs related to components “which are used in platforms, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, M1A1 Abrams Tank, Tactical Tomahawk Missile, B-1B Lancer Long- Range Strategic Bomber, and the F- 22 fighter jets platforms as well as the T55 and CTS800 Turbomotor engines to the PRC [People’s Republic of China], “in particular, according to the State Department.” The US government has reviewed copies of the 71 drawings and has determined that the exports and retransfer to the PRC of drawings of certain parts and components of the engine platforms of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, The B-1B Lancer Long Range Strategic Bomber and the F-22 fighter jet have affected US national security. “

The CTS800 engine, not mentioned in the previous list, was originally designed to power the RAH-66A Comanche stealth helicopter. Today it is in the Leonardo AW159 Wildcat helicopter, used by the British Royal Navy, among others, and the Turkish attack helicopter T129 ATAK, among others.

Other alleged unauthorized exports of designs were made to Canada, Mexico, Ireland and Taiwan. However, the US government did not assess any of these incidents as having had a direct impact on national security, according to the indictment document.

Honeywell has disputed the national security implications of the transfers, which it first disclosed to the U.S. government in 2018.

“The issues reported by Honeywell involved technology that has been assessed as having no impact on national security and which is commercially available around the world,” the company said in a statement. “No detailed manufacturing or engineering expertise was shared.”

It should also be noted that the provisions of the AECA and ITAR are extremely strict. They even impose heavy penalties on the exporting overseas of seemingly harmless items, such as certain unclassified technical manuals that may otherwise be freely bought and sold by US citizens.

At the same time, even though the details of the basic technology in question are freely available internationally, it seems difficult to see how the export of designs which could be related to the use of this technology on platforms Sensitive shapes, such as the F-35, F-22, B-1, or Tomahawk cruise missile, would not at least not be of concern.

The Chinese government has a long history of industrial espionage with the aim of acquiring various military and commercial technologies, especially aviation-related systems, with a particular focus on aircraft engines. In 2018, the American and Belgian authorities notably collaborated to apprehend a Chinese spy accusing of stealing aerospace information from various American companies, including General Electric. The country’s intelligence services have already obtained other more sensitive information on various modern American weapon systems, including the F-35 and the F-22, as well as.

“In my discussions – in my discussions with President Xi, I told him, ‘We welcome the competition. We are not looking for conflict, ”President Joe Biden said last week, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping. in an address at a joint session of Congress on April 28, 2021. “But I made it quite clear that we will stand up for America’s interests at all levels. America will stand up against unfair trade practices that undermine American workers and the operations and public enterprises and the theft of US technology and intellectual property. “

It is certainly possible, now that this regulation is public, that more information on the specifics of what would have been exported and the operational safety issue at stake emerges. Either way, the alleged violations are certainly puzzling given the Chinese authorities’ efforts to illegally obtain similar information.

UPDATE, 11:40 a.m. EST:

After this story was posted, Honeywell reached out, saying the initial company statement that was sent contained errors and providing an updated statement, which is as follows:

Honeywell is fully committed to complying with all applicable export control laws, including the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Several years ago, we voluntarily informed the Defense Trade Controls Compliance Unit (DTCC) of the US State Department in two voluntary disclosures where Honeywell designs were inadvertently shared during normal trade discussions.

The issues reported by Honeywell involved technology that has been assessed as having an impact on national security, although it is commercially available around the world. No detailed manufacturing or engineering expertise was shared.

Under an agreement with the State Department to resolve these issues, Honeywell will pay a fine, hire an external compliance officer to oversee the consent agreement for at least 18 months, and perform an external audit of our program. of compliance. Since Honeywell voluntarily self-reported these disclosures, we have taken several steps to ensure there are no repeat incidents. These measures included improving export security, investing in additional compliance staff and increasing compliance training.

Contact the author: [email protected]


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About Joaquin Robertson

Joaquin Robertson

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