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Feds release indictment claiming Chinese intelligence officers stole turbofan jet engine plans

FILE PHOTO - Precision Castparts' plant in Southeast Portland is shown here. Chinese hackers penetrated the computer networks of an Oregon aeronautics manufacturer — and may have absconded with plans for a turbofan jet engine — according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Federal prosecutors named several Chinese intelligence officers who allegedly perpetrated the attacks while working for the Ministry of State Security in an indictment announced on Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Prosecutors say the hacking continued from 2010 through May, 2015, when an "Oregon-based company" that was building the turbofan jet engine removed malware from its computer systems. At the time of the intrusion, Chinese companies were working to develop a comparable engine for its commercial aircraft.

The feds won't say exactly which Oregon airplane company was targeted, and local business directories list quite a few possibilities, though many are small fry.

Of course, one of the largest local makers is Precision Castparts, which manufactures aircraft fans in its facility in Southeast Portland. On its website, the company lists fan frames, turbine exhaust cases, diffusers, compressor housings and fuel nozzles as examples of airplane parts it can make.

The Boeing Company is another major aerospace firm with a large complex on Sandy Boulevard, but the company is technically headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

More information will be revealed if the case progresses — and anything else is just idle speculation.

"This is just the beginning," Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said in a news release. "Together with our federal partners, we will redouble our efforts to safeguard America's ingenuity and investment."

Precision Castparts did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Tribune will update this story if they respond.

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