UK Citizen Arrested Over Plot To Sell F-35 Secrets To China

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UK Citizen Arrested Over Plot To Sell F-35 Secrets To China

A US F-35B prepares for a vertical landing on board a vessel during an exercise off the coast of Japan © Issei Kato/Reuters

A UK citizen has been arrested by counterterrorism police over alleged plotting to sell F-35 military secrets to China, according to media reports. Scotland Yard says that a man is suspected of breaching the Official Secrets Act.

Rolls-Royce’s one-time chief combustion technologist Bryn Jones, 73, was arrested on June 13 and taken to a police station in Derbyshire. Later, he was released. However, he remains under investigation.

According to The Sun, the man was arrested over fears that classified information about UK F-35 stealth fighter jets may have been passed on to China. The main is a former Rolls-Royce engineer. The company was one of several UK companies with contracts to produce parts for F-35 jets.

British news technology website The Register reports (source):

MI5 is said to have received intelligence that “classified defence information” may have been passed to China as part of a plot involving Jones. Jones was apprehended during an “ultra discreet” police operation that included a search of a nearby office.

The Sun reported that the engineer, who left Rolls-Royce in 2003 for academic and consultancy roles, had 40 years’ experience “in the development of new combustion technology for aero gas turbines and aero derivative engines”.

Jones is reportedly a visiting professor in gas turbine combustion at China’s Aeronautical University of Xian.

The F-35B, which is the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the supersonic stealth fighter, has a lift fan that rotates its jet engine’s thrust through 90 degrees for takeoffs and landings. The lift fan mechanism was mostly designed by Rolls-Royce, building on the original design work for the Pegasus engine that powered the Harrier jump-jet. It makes up a significant chunk of the 15 per cent of each F-35B that is built in Britain.

Exact details of the lift fan’s design and construction are highly classified, not least because such details could not only give an adversary key information about radar and infrared signatures but also let them copy the design. China has already put together a visual replica of the F-35A, variously named in Western media as the J-31 or FC-31, and a STOVL version of that aircraft could cause headaches for Western militaries in years to come.

A Met Police spokesman said: “At approximately 1425 hours on Tuesday officers arrested a man in Derbyshire as part of an investigation under the Official Secrets Act. The man, who is in his 70s and worked within private industry, has been taken to a police station in Derbyshire where he remains in custody.”

The Daily Telegraph later reported that Jones had been released from police custody.

In other news, Rolls-Royce announced this morning it is shedding 4,600 jobs. The company has been struggling with faults in its Trent 1000 engines, which power certain models of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. ®

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  • Wise Gandalf

    UK Citizen Arrested Over Plot To Sell F-35 Secrets To China

    he only tried to ruin chine selling junk technology

  • as

    The rotating lift fan is UK own technology not the Yakolev that was bought over to US to make F35B design. Seems a little bit true.

    • Spit

      The Only thing that airplane has going for it is its electronics Suit, Very guarded Magnotronic technology…

      • Nexusfast123

        If that is the only thing for it then its stuffed. Sensors can be spoofed or jammed…

  • James

    Well he is allowed to freely visit a University in China as a Professor in that area, so what is the problem? Surely if his knowledge impacted so much on National Security then they would ban him from that activity? But they didn’t, so he gave them information on that sort of technology….

    Sounds more like confusion and double-standards on the Governments part than any espionage of his.

  • jabirujoe .
  • Vitex

    The CHINESE should arrest him for selling THEM F-35 technology…..

  • Sinbad2

    Oh no now the Chinese know how the rubber band works.

  • Nawaponrath

    It would be easier for the Chinese to go to the Russians for the swivel nozzle tech