Chi Mak, a former senior electrical engineer at Paragon Power, an Anaheim, California-based subsidiary of defense contractor L-3 Communications, was arrested, as was his wife, brother, and sister-in-law. He is accused of bringing sensitive defense documents to his brother, who would then encrypt them within music CD files and deliver them to China.
Tai Mak and his wife were arrested Oct. 28, with an encrypted disc in their luggage. Chi Mak and his wife were arrested later in the day. The brothers are still being held, and have not been permitted to leave the United States. The filings say Chi Mak has admitted passing at least some of that information on to the Chinese military, which had previously sent him a “task list” of the kind of information they wanted.
Power Paragon has 200 contracts with the U.S. military, including the project that Chi Mak helped to lead: Quiet Electric Drive for Navy propulsion systems. The Navy is hoping to use electric drive on its next class of Navy destroyers, the DD(X).
The documents Chi allegedly took from his employer were not considered classified. That is, they were not top secret, secret, or confidential. Still, they were considered “NOFORN,” meaning no foreign nationals were allowed to look at them.
This being the case, maybe we should consider immediately scrapping the DD(X) program. (Rats! Oh, well. It was worth a shot…)
In Chi Mak’s apartment were documents related to a number of other programs, many of which neither he nor Paragon Power were directly involved with.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mak acknowledges passing information about:
- the electrical distribution system for Virginia-class subs
- circuit breaker systems for Virginia-class subs
- electromagnetic launch systems for aircraft carriers
- the Aegis radar system used on Navy destroyers
- reports on Navy battleship survivability.
I’d say door #4, the AEGIS radar system information, is probably the most worrisome. Especially if you’re Taiwanese. Assuming this is legit, let’s hope they’ve got a solid case and really nail these guys.
And to DD(X) fans who might ask why I had no snarky remarks about not re-activating battleships now that information about their survivability has been leaked to the Chinese: I haven’t seen the document, but I imagine it says “Real damn survivable. I mean, really, really survivable. When planes with bombs crashed into them, they cleaned up the mess with a broom and a can of gray paint. Use the missiles on other ships.”