HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Two key U.S. senators have called on Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to consider barring a United Technologies Corp. subsidiary from Pentagon contracts for illegally exporting software to China.
Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Arizona's John McCain, the top Republican on the panel, asked Panetta on Monday to evaluate the case for contract suspension or debarment of jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney Canada.
Levin and McCain called the illegal exports "enormously troubling."
Hartford-based United Technologies would not comment and a Pentagon spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pratt & Whitney Canada pleaded guilty on June 28 to crimes related to the illegal export of software that U.S. officials say was used by China to develop its first modern military attack helicopter.
"As we (are) sure you do, we find the crime to which PWC pleaded guilty enormously troubling," Levin and McCain wrote to Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "The nature and number of these export control violations and the length of time during which they occurred raise the concern that they may have caused significant harm to our national security."
Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp., Hartford-based UTC and another subsidiary along with UTC agreed to pay more than $75 million in fines in connection with the export violations and providing misleading information to the U.S. government.
The United States has barred the export of defense articles to China since 1989.
The Department of State announced on June 28 it is barring Pratt & Whitney Canada from certain arms regulations licensing. Levin and McCain cited the agency's action in asking Panetta to consider a similar response.
Authorities said the prosecution was one of the largest involving export violations with a major defense contractor in the Justice Department's history.