Maui man is charged with selling B-2 bomber secrets
The FBI accuses the ex- Northrop engineer of peddling stealth technology overseas
A 61-year-old Maui man who helped design the B-2 stealth bomber has been arrested for selling military secrets to foreign governments, the FBI said yesterday.
Noshir S. Gowadia, an engineer who worked for Northrop Corp. from November 1968 to April 1986, is being charged under federal espionage statutes for allegedly disclosing top-secret information relating to stealth technology to representatives of at least three countries.
The FBI would not reveal which countries got the information or how recently Gowadia was allegedly funneling them military secrets. Northrop officials could not be reached for comment last night.
Gowadia has been living in Maui for six years, a family member in Makawao said last night. She would not comment on the allegations against Gowadia, who made his first appearance in federal court in Honolulu yesterday afternoon.
Gowadia is in federal custody, charged with willfully communicating national defense information to a person not entitled to receive it. According to prosecutors, he faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
In a news release issued last night, FBI officials said that "Gowadia, over the last several years, has marketed himself to foreign military entities and other foreign persons."
It also said the military secrets relating to the B-2 that Gowadia allegedly disclosed were aimed at assisting foreign countries "in obtaining a higher level of military technology."
Gowadia was allegedly paid for the secrets, the FBI said.
In an affidavit filed yesterday, prosecutors allege that Gowadia faxed a classified document on Oct. 23, 2002, that contained details for developing infrared technology for military aircraft. The fax went to an official at an unspecified foreign country.
Infrared suppression systems on aircraft can protect them from heat-seeking missiles.
Also, the affidavit says Gowadia talked about or delivered top-secret information to two other unspecified foreign governments.
This is the first case of its kind in the islands, U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo said last night. He declined to talk about the investigation.
"We want to play this case very close to the vest," Kubo said. "This is an extremely important case, so we're not going to have any more comments until and unless we're prepared to do so."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson is prosecuting the case. It is being investigated by the FBI, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
Gowadia is listed with the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs as owning "N.S. Gowadia Inc." in Haiku, which is described as providing "research and development, engineering services, technical consulting and any business related thereto." The company was started in 2000 in New Mexico.
He was also recently a visiting professor at Purdue University's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Indiana, though the dates of his visit could not be confirmed last night. A Purdue professor's Web site on a graduate-level course identifies Gowadia as having more than 38 years of experience in "research, development of aerospace and marine systems."
The professor also says Gowadia "was one of the principal designers of the USAF/Northrop B-2 bomber, whose entire propulsion system was conceived and conceptually designed by him."
A 2004 article in Jane's International Defense Review identifies Gowadia as the "principal and chief designer" for NTech, a Hawaii company that was developing an infrared system that could "render airliners and military airlifters virtually invulnerable to attack."
Gowadia, according to the article, helped minimize the infrared signature of the B-2 stealth bomber.