TECHNOLOGY: by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
Beijing bid to steal Australia's secret military technology
, October 28, 2006
The Chinese Government has made a serious effort to steal state-of-the art military technology developed by a Brisbane company, and now under advanced testing in the U.S.
"Metal Storm" is the name of a new technology which utilises electronically-controlled firing to produce a quantum leap in firepower and accuracy over existing military technologies. It has been reported to have a vastly superior rate of fire capacity than existing weaponry.Investment
Australia has invested at least $10 million in the new technology, and the United States has put in at least $20 million.
The technology has been included in the Redback weapons system which incorporates a lightweight multi-barrel electronic weapon, firing stacked munitions. The barrels can be loaded with different munitions, and electronic firing means no jamming and no requirement to charge the weapon before use. It can also be used to destroy incoming rocket propelled grenades.
Metal Storm is so significant that the U.S. Defence Department has stated that it must not be permitted to fall into the hands of potential enemies, and has put in place processes to protect it.
Channel 9's Sunday program recently revealed that Chinese agents had tried to steal the new technology in Australia.
A special investigation found that representatives of the People's Liberation Army of China had made at least four separate attempts to acquire the secret, high-tech weaponry.
In one case, an Australian businessman of Chinese origin, travelling in China, was approached by a Chinese official and asked to help China's People's Liberation Army obtain one of the weapons. The man was told that money was no object, and that he would receive a multi-million commission.
In another case, the inventor of the new technology, Mike O'Dwyer, was invited to Beijing to explain how the weapon system worked.
This approach came to Mr O'Dwyer when he was working in Metal Storm's Washington office. He received a phone call from Beijing, from a man with an American accent.
Mr O'Dwyer said, "The gentleman spoke to me in very straight talk and short sentences, and basically said, 'Look I'm not going to beat about the bush,' he used those words, 'I'm sitting at a table in Beijing and all the people in the room with me are representatives of the People's Liberation Army and why we are making this phone call is that we want Metal Storm technology'."
The man invited him to go to Beijing, and offered him US$50 million on arrival, and a further US$50 million a year later.
Mr O'Dwyer said, "What I was expected to do in Beijing simply was ... to work with a group of people to divulge all the knowledge I possessed regarding Metal Storm to enable prototypes to be built for the weapons systems to be developed."
Although he declined the offer, he subsequently received a number of email messages from China, expressing interest in acquiring the technology. He passed these on to Australian defence security officials, but does not believe that the Australian government understands the gravity of the matter.
He told Sunday that the Beijing regime has been attempting to get its hands on the technology for the past ten years, but the Australian government has paid little attention to the Chinese government's actions.
"I think it's very unlikely the Australian government has understood the significant persistence and determination of this effort."
In other cases, Metal Storm Limited had received approaches from a Chinese delegation which was visiting Brisbane, and in another case, was approached by a foreign national of Chinese extraction.
Chinese government approaches, Mr O'Dwyer said, have "gone on for a long period of time, coming at the company from all sorts of quarters."
Following the successful initial test-firing of the technology in Singapore and display at the Asian Aerospace Exhibition in February this year, a prototype was recently exhibited at the Defence Industry Exhibition in Paris (June 2006) where it attracted a significant level of interest from a range of different countries.- Peter Westmore