The State Department is apparently upset that a Pratt & Whitney engine exported from Canada by Pratt & Whitney Canada, a Canadian subsidiary of United Technologies, wound up in the Chinese military’s Z-10 attack helicopter, pictured above.
State Department spokesman Karl Duckworth said information was being gathered before deciding whether to take any action. “We are reviewing the matter and have no further comments at this time,” he said.
According to P&W Canada, it received an export license in 2001 to ship 10 PT-6 engines to the Chinese. The PT-6, developed 40 years ago in Canada, is used in 25,000 civilian helicopters around the world.
So, the State Department may be upset, but where’s the beef? First, the State Department’s jurisdiction under the section 120.17 of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations extends only to exports of defense articles, including technology, from the United States. Unless the PT-6 engine shipped from P&W Canada contains U.S. technology, the State Department doesn’t have a hook to hang it’s annoyed hat on.
Second, the technology has to relate to a United States Munitions List (“USML”) item. Category VIII(b) of the USML only applies to engines for military helicopters. P&W Canada says that it shipped these engines for use on civil helicopters and that the Chinese, because of delays in developing engines for its military helicopters, subsequently decided to adapt the exported engines on the military helicopter.
Nobody, other than the Chinese, is particularly happy that the P&W engine wound up on the Z-10. But until the U.S. and other countries decide to restrict the sale of civilian aircraft engines to China, there’s nothing to be gained by threatening investigations against companies that legally exported the engines.