THE SPY WHO CAME
The B-2 Stealth Bomber: Flying Below the Pentagon’s Radar
Sightings from The Catbird Seat
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August 2, 2008
Hawaii man accused of helping China design missile
By AUDREY McAVOY, Associated Press
Cheryl Gowadia couldn't figure out why FBI agents in riot gear, guns drawn, were storming her home on Maui's tranquil North Shore. At first, she thought they might be after the man building a pond in her backyard. Instead, she was stunned to learn they wanted to question her husband, a former B-2 stealth bomber engineer.
"This came out of nowhere," Gowadia said.
A week later, on Oct. 13, 2005, agents arrested Noshir Gowadia, a native of India who received a Ph.D. at 15, on suspicion he sold military secrets to China.
Maui is an unlikely place for a spy saga., a mostly rural island of 140,000 known more for big-wave surfing and five-star resorts.
But prosecutors say Noshir Gowadia used Maui as a base to design a stealth cruise missile for China. He was indicted on 21 counts of conspiracy, money-laundering and falsifying tax returns.
Despite the seriousness of the charges, the case has received scant public attention.
The defendant has been out of sight since a judge determined he was a flight risk and denied him bail.
And, adding to his obscurity, Gowadia's trial date has been repeatedly postponed as both prosecution and defense lawyers have sought more time to review thousands of pages of classified evidence.
The trial is now due to begin on Jan. 21. Gowadia has pleaded not guilty.
The case comes amid growing U.S. concern about Chinese spying and enhanced prosecution efforts across the country.
Last year, a jury convicted Chi Mak, an engineer for a California-based defense contractor, of conspiring to export U.S. submarine propulsion technology to China. He was sentenced to 24 1/2 years in prison. In June, a Chinese national with Canadian citizenship was sentenced to 24 months for selling fighter pilot training software to the Chinese navy.
Dan Blumenthal, a former China country director at the Pentagon and a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said Beijing is after technologies that would help it counter the U.S.
"It's not necessarily James Bond-like spying where you have some super spy penetrating the deepest U.S. secrets," Blumenthal said. "It's trying relentlessly to get defense related technology from U.S. companies, U.S. engineers and the U.S. military."
Cheryl Gowadia says that FBI raid nearly three years ago was her first indication her husband was suspected of anything illegal.
Agents scoured every corner of the couple's two-story home, and left with boxes of papers and family photos, including wedding pictures. Officers interrogated her husband in the vacant maid's apartment in the back of the house for six hours.
"They're claiming that we built this house with money he earned illegally," Cheryl Gowadia said, sitting in her living room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Uaoa Bay. "There's isn't a shred of truth in it, not one dime."
Although the house is valued at $4 million, Cheryl Gowadia must live frugally because the couple spent most of their savings hiring a Washington law firm to defend Gowadia. The money ran out a year after his arrest and they're now relying on a court-appointed attorney.
They can't sell the house to raise money because prosecutors have a lien on it, saying Gowadia will have to forfeit the property if he's convicted. The couple's son has been paying the mortgage, but there isn't enough left over for hot water or to maintain the yard.
Gowadia's new attorney, David Klein, declined to make the engineer available for comment.
Gowadia moved to the U.S. from India in the 1960s for postgraduate work. In 1968 he joined defense contractor Northrop Corp., now Northrop Grumman Corp., where he designed elements of the B-2.
He became a U.S. citizen in the 1970s and retired from Northrop in 1986, two years before the B-2 made its public debut.
Cheryl Gowadia said he's honest and, in a way, naive. He didn't bother calling a lawyer when agents showed up at his home and started questioning him.
"He is totally unable to lie. It is not his nature. He's as honest and truthful and trusting as they come," Cheryl Gowadia said.
The indictment alleges he made six trips to China from 2003 to 2005, conspiring to conceal some of his visits by getting border agents to leave immigration stamps off his passport.
In Chengdu in 2003, Gowadia allegedly gave Chinese engineers and officials classified information about missile exhaust systems that emit little heat and thus are hard to detect. The city is home to the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute, which created the J-10, a state-of-the-art fighter plane China unveiled last year.
Prosecutors allege Gowadia pocketed $110,000 over two years for his exhaust nozzle design.
He's also accused of attempting to sell classified stealth technology to the Swiss government and to businesses in Israel and Germany.
The defendant's son, Ashton Gowadia, said it doesn't make sense that someone with a distinguished career like his father's would sell military secrets. He also questioned why anyone living a comfortable life would sell classified material for so little money.
"We want this thing in court," Ashton Gowadia said. "He wants to show the world that he's innocent and he wants to clear his name."
April 4, 2006
B-2 engineer awaits trial in secrets scandal
Federal prosecutors say more charges are pending against a Maui man accused of selling B-2 stealth bomber secrets to foreign governments.
Noshir Gowadia, a design engineer with Northrup who billed himself as the father of the B-2's infrared suppressing propulsion system, has been in federal custody since Oct. 26 and is awaiting trial in May. He is charged with six separate transfers of classified information.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson said with the impending superseding indictment, "we feel this case will radically change," and asked that the court designate the case complex, giving the parties more time to prepare for trial.
He cited the sheer volume of discovery in the case, which includes information that has yet to be formally classified by the Air Force and a substantial amount of evidence from foreign countries involved.
Chris Todd, attorney for Gowadia, said his client is entitled to go to trial as speedily as possible and that his rights have been adversely affected by the slowness in which evidence is being classified....
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October 27, 2005
Maui man is charged with
selling B-2 bomber secrets
The FBI accuses the ex-Northrop engineer of
peddling stealth technology overseas
By Mary Vorsino, Honolulu Star-Bulletin
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.
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October 28, 2005
'Father' of the B-2
A just-released affidavit provides some insight into the mind of an admitted spy living on Maui
By Mary Vorsino, Star-Bulletin
As far back as 1999, when he moved to Maui from New Mexico, Noshir S. Gowadia was marketing himself to foreign countries as the "father" of the classified technology that helps protect B-2 stealth bombers from heat-seeking missiles, according to an affidavit unsealed yesterday.
"I wanted to help this (sic) countries to further their self aircraft protection systems. My personal gain would be business," Gowadia said in a statement given to the FBI on Oct. 14, in which he admitted to knowingly disclosing top-secret information. "At that time, I knew it was wrong and I did it for the money."
In all, the 61-year-old Haiku resident -- who helped design the stealth bomber as a defense contractor for Northrop Corp. for 18 years -- is accused of disclosing the stealth's infrared-suppression secrets to representatives from eight foreign governments.
He told the FBI that he shared classified information "both verbally and in papers, computer presentations, letters and other methods ... to establish the technological credibility with the potential customers for future business."
Gowadia was charged Wednesday with one count of willfully communicating national defense information to a person not entitled to receive it, which falls under federal espionage statutes. He is in federal custody in Honolulu and is set to make an appearance at a detention hearing today in federal court.
According to prosecutors, Gowadia faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Officials said he could face more charges in the future.
At a news conference yesterday, FBI Special Agent in Charge Charles Goodwin read from a written statement and declined to answer questions on the investigation. "This is a very sensitive, ongoing investigation," he said.
Neither the affidavit nor Goodwin revealed which countries Gowadia allegedly sold secrets to, or whether they were allied or enemy nations. Goodwin did say that Gowadia was born in India and is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Gowadia's wife, Cheryl, declined comment yesterday at the couple's home in Haiku.
The FBI searched Gowadia's home on Oct. 13, finding several classified documents from the engineer's days at Northrop and when he was a contract engineer in the 1990s at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
During the search, according to the affidavit, Gowadia denied having any classified material and "displayed a full understanding of his responsibilities with respect to the maintenance" of military secrets.
But a day later, when asked about the documents marked classified that were allegedly taken from his home, Gowadia submitted a written statement to the FBI in which he admitted to selling or disclosing classified information.
The FBI alleges that:
» On Oct. 23, 2002, Gowadia faxed a proposal to develop infrared-suppression technology on military aircraft to a representative in an unspecified foreign country. The information included in the document was classified at the "top secret" level and made specific mention of the classified defense system in the United States.
» In December 1999, Gowadia taught a course to foreigners in a second unspecified country, including information deemed "secret" that he had access to while working for Northrop and as a subcontractor for Los Alamos. Northrop representatives declined comment yesterday.
» On several other occasions, Gowadia provided "extensive amounts of classified information" to individuals in a third unspecified country while teaching a course on "low observable technology."
The affidavit did not say how classified information was allegedly disclosed to representatives from five other foreign countries. And it is unclear if Gowadia's course material for classes at U.S. universities was drawn from classified resources.
As recently as this spring, Gowadia co-taught a course at Purdue University as a visiting professor. He has also taught at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa.
The FBI said in the affidavit that it used documents and computers taken from Gowadia's home, along with electronic surveillance, to piece together the extent of the engineer's alleged criminal activity.
Gowadia "has marketed and disclosed United States military technology secrets related to the B-2 to foreign governments in order to 'assist' them in obtaining a higher level of military technology," wrote FBI Special Agent Thatcher Mohajerin in the affidavit.
The investigation "has also revealed that Gowadia has been rewarded financially for his efforts."
Gowadia's engineering contract business, N.S. Gowadia Inc., took in nearly $750,000 in gross receipts between 1999 and 2003. But prosecutors believe Gowadia's actual income was much higher. The investigation, according to the affidavit, showed Gowadia "likely" maintains several offshore bank accounts.
Defense analysts say the allegations against Gowadia are serious, but they cautioned against rushing to conclusions, given the government's problematic record in prosecuting these kinds of national security cases.
Philip Coyle, a senior advisor for the Center for Defense Information and a former assistant secretary of defense, cited the Wen Ho Lee case at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1999. Lee was accused of stealing military secrets from the lab and funneling them to China.
But the government ended up dropping 59 felony counts of espionage against Lee, who pleaded guilty to a single count of improperly handling restricted data.
"He (Wen Ho Lee) did a stupid thing," Coyle said, "but it turns out what he actually did was nowhere near what the government first asserted."
There is also the high-profile case of Katrina Leung.
The California woman was accused of spying for China, but a federal judge dropped all charges against her in December after prosecutors admitted to illegally blocking a primary defense witness.
For years, Leung had gathered intelligence on the Chinese government for the FBI.
Gowadia, meanwhile, appeared to be open about the technology he is accused of peddling. A 2004 article in Jane's International Defense Review identified Gowadia as developing a system that would make military and civilian aircraft "virtually invulnerable to attack" from infrared-guided air defense systems.
Publicity like that could have turned the government on to him, said John Pike, director of Globalsecurity.org, a private defense policy group. But it also raises the question about why he was not caught sooner, he said.
Noshir Sheriarji Gowadia
Background: Gowadia helped develop the B-2 stealth bomber while he was an engineer at Northrop Corp., and was instrumental in the creation of a defense system for heat-seeking missiles. After 18 years at Northrop, he went on to become a contract engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
Accusation: One count of "willfully communicating national defense information to a person not entitled to receive it," which falls under federal espionage statutes.
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September 28, 2005
Maui man had been up
for DOD contract
By Nelson Daranciang, Star-Bulletin
A former Northrop Corp. engineer charged with selling secrets about how the B-2 bomber eludes heat-seeking missiles was being considered for a subcontractor job on a Department of Defense contract to design a similar system for commercial aircraft.
Maui resident Noshir S. Gowadia designed the B-2's propulsion system to make it difficult to track through infrared detection. He was arrested and charged Tuesday with passing classified information about the system to foreign countries.
Federal investigators said Gowadia admitted passing the classified information to eight foreign countries.
Purdue University recently won a $1.1 million Defense Department contract to design a similar system for commercial aircraft but had not started work on it, said Jeanne Norberg, a Purdue spokeswoman.
The school had been talking to Gowadia about being a potential subcontractor on the project, she said.
Norberg said Gowadia's involvement in the Defense Department contract was put on hold following his arrest....
Norberg said the faculty at the school got to know Gowadia in 2003, when he went to Purdue to test an advanced nozzle design, used in stealth technology, in one of the university's laboratories....
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October 28, 2005
Rural area was site of FBI search
Noshir Gowadia and his wife are relative newcomers
to the low-key, high-priced locale
By Gary T. Kubota, Star-Bulletin
HAIKU, Maui » In rural Huelo, many of the unpaved rutted roads lead to multimillion-dollar homes with manicured lawns and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
And it was in one of these homes, federal authorities allege, that Noshir S. Gowadia kept government secrets about one of America's most formidable weapons, a B-2 stealth bomber.
It is an impressive dwelling, Mediterranean style with blue tile roof, white stucco-looking walls and a view overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Many of the homes in this area have recently been sold for about $2 million each. Gowadia and his wife bought the 2-acre lot for $330,000 in 1999.
During an Oct. 13 search, FBI agents seized classified documents from the house.
Agents said the documents dated back from Gowadia's employment with Northrop -- between 1968 and 1986 or to the early 1990s -- when he was a contract engineer at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
Gowadia, a design engineer for the project, called himself the father of the B-2's infrared suppressing propulsion system. And now, authorities say, he allegedly sold B-2 secrets to about eight foreign governments, violating federal espionage laws.
An FBI agent said Gowadia reported receiving nearly $750,000 from 1999 to 2003, but the income could be greater because he has several bank accounts, some of which are foreign and unreported.
The home that was searched by the FBI sits on the edge of rural Maui, an area favored by residents who want to get away from urban Kahului.
Past the expensive homes, further up on the hillside, there are pineapple fields and farms along nearby Hana Highway, where unattended vendor stands let customers bag their own fruit and put the money in a locked cash box.
A few residents along Holokai Place and adjacent North Holokai Road said they do not know what to think about the alleged charges because they do not know the Gowadias, who are newcomers....
John Papazian, principal broker and owner of Haiku Properties, said many homes in the area have sold for more than $2 million....
The Gowadias have been active in the real estate market on Maui, buying a home in Kihei in 1999 for $75,000 and selling it in 2001 for $121,000.
The couple also bought a house at Keonekai Estates in Kihei for $390,000 in 2001 and sold it for $575,000 in 2003, according to Maui County tax records.
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October 29, 2005
Alleged seller of secrets
hailed as patriot by son
The Maui resident accused of peddling military secrets
will be exonerated, son says
By Debra Barayuga, Honolulu Star-Bulletin
The son of an engineer who helped design the B-2 stealth bomber says his father is innocent of selling classified information to foreign government.
"The man bleeds red, white and blue for this country, and he's done a lot of things that have saved a lot of American military lives," Ashton Gowadia, eldest son of Noshir Gowadia, said yesterday.
Noshir Gowadia was arrested and charged Wednesday under federal espionage statutes. FBI officials say he has signed a confession in which he acknowledges selling B-2 secrets to eight foreign countries.
But Ashton Gowadia said he is confident that when the truth comes out, his father will be exonerated.
"I understand the government's position right now because right now we're at war, and so you have to be careful -- you have to check out everything," Gowadia said. "But in this case, I'm very confident that he's innocent."
U.S. Magistrate Barry Kurren ordered a slightly rumpled Noshir Gowadia, 61, of Haiku, Maui, held without bail yesterday.
Gowadia, a Maui resident for the past six years, worked as a design engineer for Northrop Corp. from November 1968 to April 1986 and has called himself the father of the infrared suppression technology that helps protect B-2 bombers from heat-seeking missiles.
A complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court accuses the naturalized citizen from India of disclosing classified national defense information to foreign governments and of being paid for his assistance.
Prosecutors say that Gowadia gave a statement to investigators on Oct. 14 in which he allegedly admitted he did so to help other countries improve their aircraft defense systems, that he knew it was wrong and that he did it for money, according to a court affidavit.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson argued in court that Gowadia poses a danger to the community because of the "vast amount" of knowledge of national security and classified information he possesses, including information found on computer hard drives at his Maui home. Found on one computer alone were 14,000 files that are of concern to the U.S. Air Force, Sorenson said.
It is not known whether Gowadia kept other copies of these files at other locations or with other individuals in other countries who might be capable of distributing them, he said.
Their investigation has revealed that Gowadia routinely traveled internationally and has contacts in foreign countries because of his work. He also has businesses in countries including Australia and Switzerland. If Gowadia is not detained, there is a danger that classified information could be disseminated, Sorenson said.
Assistant federal defender Donna Gray argued that the government cannot rely solely on the facts and circumstances of the case to detain Gowadia, who must be presumed innocent and is not charged with a crime of violence or drug trafficking.
She argued that conditions can be imposed to allow him to be supervised on Oahu, including restricting his communications.
Kurren found that Gowadia poses a serious flight risk based on his foreign contacts and extensive travel over the years and poses a danger to the community if he engages in the activities alleged in the affidavit. Gowadia's personal safety is also a concern, Kurren said.
Also, while the Gowadias appear to have substantial assets to post a security, the assets might be subject to forfeiture based on the allegations, he said.
"In light of these serious allegations, foreign ties -- it's too early to consider any proper conditions for release," Kurren said.
Federal prosecutors declined to comment on Ashton Gowadia's out-of-court statements.
Gowadia's son said most of the allegations cited in the criminal complaint against his father are "false," calling the situation a "misunderstanding that's blown way out of proportion."
He could not divulge details, saying he did not want to hurt his father's case.
"This man is a hero to this country," he said. "I can't wait for the facts to come out."
Gowadia said his father's situation has been difficult for his family, which he described as "very patriotic."
"It's very difficult because you have the media here, and everybody, when they read this stuff, they say, 'Oh my God, what has this guy done?' -- but it isn't anything like what they said."
Gowadia, who met with his father after the hearing, said his father is doing fine. "He knows it's going to get cleared up."
His father has the support of many individuals in Washington and at the highest echelons of the U.S. military who are thankful for what he has done for this country, he said.
As for his father's safety, Gowadia said his father's life has been in danger for the past 30 to 35 years.
"He's risked his life for this country. That's what they don't understand ... the things he's done for our country -- he's always in danger."
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October 29, 2005: Originally posted on www.the-catbird-seat.net
March 13, 2007: Judge David Ezra signs Order to shut down website
August 2, 2008: Latest update on www.kycbs.net
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