TAIPEI — China attempted to acquire advanced US fighter aircraft engines and a UAV, uav n unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), according to US Federal Court documents unsealed last week. The case is being heard in Florida.
The documents allege that Wenxia "Wency" Man and Xinsheng Zhang attempted to acquire and export to China the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper UAV, the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine used on the F-35 stealth fighter, the P&W F119 engine used on the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, and the General Electric F110 engine used on the F-15 and F-16 fighters.
An undercover Homeland Security Investigations special agent thwarted their effort. The items are restricted for export under US International Traffic in Arms Regulations. China has been on the list since 1990. The undercover operation was begun in 2011, according to documents.
Man was born in China and became a US citizen in 2006. She was arrested Sept. 1, but Zhang remains a "fugitive" and is believed to be in China.
Man was vice president of the family-run AFM Microelectronics Corp. in San Diego. , CA. The company made advanced capacitors for export. Her husband, Yingkuang "William" Liang, was not arrested, but allegedly had knowledge of his wife's activities.
"Liang was not only aware of the illegal conduct in which Man and Zhang were engaging … he also warned her that the individual she was dealing with (HIS Undercover Agent) was probably an undercover agent of the FBI," the documents read.
Neither AFM nor Liang could be reached for comment.
The documents allege Zhang is "an official agent for procurement of arms, munitions, implements of war, and defense articles on behalf of the People's Republic of China."
Man and Zhang allegedly made efforts to secure the shipment of the defense items via one of three countries: Hong Kong, Israel and South Korea.
In reference to Zhang, Man was quoted in the documents as referring to Zhang as a "technology spy that procures information from Russia and other places so that China can obtain sophisticated technology without having to conduct its own research."
Edward Schoepke, AFM's North American technical sales manager, said that he had no knowledge of Man's activities. He met Man's husband, Liang, while working at Johanson Technology. Schoepke worked there from 1997 to 2006. In April 2015, he joined AFM after Liang "invited me to be the North American sales rep."
According to AFM's website, the company designs and manufactures radio frequency/microwave multilayer capacitors, High K substrates for single layer capacitors, and ultra-low fire dielectric powder for multilayer capacitors.
There is little on the company website to indicate an interest in military equipment. Though the cover of the product catalog has a photograph of an X-35, forerunner of the F-35 stealth fighter, overall the catalog only mentions three products with a US military performance specification (MIL-PRF) qualification: MIL-PRF-49467.
The company's China sales agent, listed as YouChuang Industry and Trade Co. in Xian, Shaanxi Province in northwestern China, could not be reached for comment, but YouChuang's phone number was the same as the Shenzhen-based Xifei Aviation Components Co., based in the southern province of Guangdong.
The description of the company on Xifei's official website said that it is an independent research and development outfit supporting the Chinese military's General Armaments Department, General Staff Department, and the People's Liberation Army Air Force. Because of company growth, they opened an office in Xian (YouChuang).
Neither YouChuang nor Xifei could be reached for comment.