China got strategic drone tech from grad student in Tennessee spy case
China obtained valuable U.S. defense technology, including technology for use in unmanned aerial vehicles, through a spy case involving a Chinese graduate student in Tennessee.
The compromised technology included plasma actuators for a munitions-type UAV or drone, a key U.S. strategic weapon being used in the war on terrorism.
China is working on developing armed drones as part of its asymmetric warfare capabilities.
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J. Reece Roth, a retired University of Tennessee professor, was convicted Sept. 3 of illegally exporting military technical information relating to plasma technology and designed to be deployed on the wings of drones operating as a weapons or surveillance systems.
Two Americans were involved in transmitting the export-controlled defense technology, including U.S. Air Force know-how for armed UAVs.
The technical data and information was developed through a U.S. Air Force R&D contract.
The U.S. military leads the world in the use of drones. In Yemen, a Predator UAV was recently used to attack and kill an al Qaeda terrorist as he traveled in a car.