By Jim McShane, Export Solutions

Yu Long, a Chinese citizen and former employee of the United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) pleaded guilty to the export and the attempted export of defense articles from the U.S. in violation of the Arms Export Control Act. The maximum possible sentence Long can serve is 20 years.

Long, who was a legal resident in the United States, was employed by UTRC as a senior engineer and scientist on programs such as the F119 used by the F-22 Raptor fighter jet and F135 used by the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet engine. In 2013, Long apparently decided that he would leverage his work and experience at UTRC to conduct research projects for state-run universities in China. In December 2013, after Long agreed in principle to join Shenyang Institute of Automation (SIA), he was asked to provide examples of projects being worked on at UTRC. He emailed documents including a UTRC export controlled presentation to China.

In May of 2014, Long left his employment at UTC and in June he traveled to China with a laptop and UTC external hard drive containing export controlled data related to the above engines. Forensic examination confirmed he accessed export controlled documents while in China. In July, Long became the project leader on a lengthy research plan for Chinese Academy of Science (CAS). On his return to the US in August, an application for a state-controlled aviation and aerospace research center in China which highlighted his UTC work related to the two engines was found in his possession by U.S. Customs. The application was for a position with a state-controlled aviation and aerospace research center in China.

In November of 2014, Long was transiting Newark International Airport enroute to China when Customs officers examined his checked luggage and discovered sensitive, proprietary and export controlled documents from another defense contractor, Rolls Royce. Further investigation revealed that Long had accessed these documents while employed by UTRC. He was arrested and has been in custody since that time. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

There are numerous reasons why someone might chose to betray his/her country, his/her employer and violate the very laws that protect our National Security. The one consistent factor is the lengths that some companies and countries will go to in order to obtain the knowledge and know-how of the technologies we strive to protect. The excerpts of the project outline that Yu Long became project leader for underscores what China wants and why:

“The three major engine companies in the world, i.e. GE, Pratt & Whitney in the US and Rolls-Royce in the UK, are all using this technology. . . Our nation lacks the ability to process high performance components, such as airplane wings, tail hooks on carrier aircrafts, and blisks . . . Because of the technology embargo imposed by western developed countries, it is very difficult for us to obtain more advanced design and manufacturing technology . . . This research project will increase our independent ability, efficiency and quality in key component manufacturing.”

Jim McShane is a Sr. Consultant, Trade Compliance for Export Solutions -- a full-service consulting firm specializing in ITAR and EAR regulations.