Indian-American Noshir Gowadia, a former B-2 stealth bomber engineer, was on Monday sentenced by a US court to 32 years in jail for selling American military secrets to China.
Gowadia, 66, has spent the past five years in prison. Prosecutors alleged that the Mumbai-born Gowadia, who showed no emotions as the judge announced the punishment, had helped design an exhaust nozzle for China that gives off less heat, making it difficult for enemy infrared detectors to track missiles. He reportedly got $110,000 over two years. The setencing comes weeks after China conducted a flight test of its new J-20 stealth fighter.
But assistant US attorney Ken Sorenson said, "We’re a little disappointed that she didn’t give him a life sentence. That’s the sentence that would’ve sent the best message. But 32 years is stiff and in many ways an appropriate sentence for him."
A US federal jury had in August convicted Gowadia on 14 counts, including conspiracy, communicating national defence information to aid a foreign nation, and violating the Arms Export Control Act.
"We believe very strongly that he’s innocent and we very much look forward to the appeals process in the 9th circuit," Gowadia’s son Ashton was quoted as saying by a local news channel.
According to court papers, Gowadia hid the proceeds from the transactions by directing the payments to secret Swiss bank accounts of foundations he set up in Liechtenstein. He worked for Northrup from 1968 to 1986, during which time he helped develop the B-2 bomber’s unique propulsion system. After his employment with Northrup ended, Gowadia continued his relationship with the US military as a private contractor.
However, following some angry dealings with the air force and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1993, Gowadia began soliciting business internationally, the government said.
Between 2003 and 2005, he made six secret trips to mainland China and exchanged numerous communications to help Chinese defence engineers design a cruise missile that can evade air-to-air, heat-seeking missiles, according the federal indictment against him.