Originally created 09/14/99

Company admits to selling missile technology



PHILADELPHIA -- A Pennsylvania company agreed Monday to plead guilty to illegally giving China technology that could help improve the accuracy of missiles.

OrbitFR, headquartered in Horsham, about 15 miles north of Philadelphia, planned to plead guilty in U.S. District Court to violating the Arms Export Control Act, according to papers filed in court Monday.

Orbit will be fined $600,000 and could be banned from exporting products for up to 10 years, U.S. Attorney Michael R. Stiles said. Charges against at least one company official are likely to follow, he said.

Orbit/FR had agreed to a $1 million deal with Chinese North Industries Corp., a major military systems manufacturer for the Chinese army.

The software and equipment sold to China were designed to measure the effectiveness of antennas in the nose cones of missiles. The system was capable of measuring accuracy within 10 feet over a distance of 10 miles, said Joe Alkus, a Customs Service supervisor.

No money changed hands. Although the Chinese got the technology, it is not fully operational. Government officials would not discuss whether any damaged to American security was caused.

William A. Torzolini, the company's chief financial officer, declined to comment.

The company is owned primarily by Orbit-Alchut Technologies Ltd., an Israeli company. The technology was originally developed for the Israeli armed forces, Stiles said.

Stiles said he was not aware of any connections between the Orbit/FR sale and any other leaks of secrets to China.