Z-10 prototypes have been equipped with 30mm cannons, anti-tank guided missiles, air-to-air missiles and unguided rockets.
U.S. authorities said that Pratt & Whitney Canada’s initial involvement in the program was to deliver 10 engines to China from Canada in 2001 and 2002. The United States said that for the purposes of this deal, Pratt & Whitney Canada argued that the engines did not constitute defense equipment subject to the U.S. military embargo on China because the engines were identical to those it was supplying China for commercial helicopters.
As part of the settlement, however, Pratt & Whitney Canada agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges related to its export to China of U.S.-made electronic engine control software used to test and operate the Pratt & Whitney Canada engines. U.S. authorities maintain that when the software, made in the United States by Hamilton Sundstrand, was modified for use in military helicopters, it thus became subject to the U.S. military embargo on China.
KNEW FROM OUTSET
According to court documents, Pratt & Whitney Canada allegedly knew from the outset of the Z-10 project in 2000 that the Chinese were developing a military attack helicopter and that helping them by supplying U.S.-origin components would be illegal. U.S. authorities say that the Canadian subsidiary failed to notify its U.S. parent and Hamilton Sundstrand until years later.
The United States maintains the Canadian company deliberately turned a blind eye to the military applications of the technology it was exporting to China.
According to court documents, in one 2001 internal email, a Pratt & Whitney Canada manager said: “We must be very careful that the helicopter programs we are doing with the Chinese are not presented or viewed as military programs. As a result of these sanctions, we need to be very careful with the Z10C program. If the first flight will be a gunship, then we could have problems with the U.S. government.”
Meanwhile, U.S. investigators say, Hamilton Sundstrand back in the United States believed it was providing its software to Pratt & Whitney Canada for use in a civilian Chinese helicopter. By 2004, investigators say, Hamilton Sundstrand learned there might be an export law problem and stopped working on the Z-10 program. But authorities say Pratt & Whitney Canada then modified software on its own and continued to export it to China through June 2005.
The U.S. government said in court documents that Pratt & Whitney Canada’s illegal activities were driven by a desire for profit, namely an entree into the Chinese civilian helicopter market. “We are on the brink of reaping the benefits of our investment,” one internal company document said.