GE-AVIC avionics joint venture still under scrutiny

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A US Congressman is continuing to pressure the Obama Administration for a formal security review of a nearly year-old joint venture agreement between General Electric and China's AVIC.

In a 17 October letter sent to Defense secretary Leon Panetta, Representative Randy Forbes called for a national security review of the new commercial avionics business by the Defense Technology Security Administration.

Forbes cited recent comments by US Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, who had accused China of "systemic stealing" of American technology.

Forbes also claimed in his letter that the integrated modular avionics to be developed by the joint venture were originally invented for the Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35 fighters.

Forbes also asked Panetta to express an opinion on whether the AVIC-GE joint venture is eligible for review under the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US.

The letter to Panetta comes nearly one month after the US Defense and Commerce departments ruled that the avionics technologies proposed by the joint venture will not require an export license, according to GE.

The joint venture was announced nearly two years ago, and both companies signed the formal agreement on 20 January. However, the joint venture's operations remain on hold pending final government reviews, GE said, adding they are "primarily" by the Chinese.

GE emphasises that the integrated modular technologies that will be developed by the joint venture are not the same as the avionics systems in the F-22 and F-35.