The man was arrested on Tuesday afternoon and taken to a police station in Derbyshire. He was later released, but remains under investigation. Scotland Yard confirmed that a search warrant was executed at an address in the West Midlands. Further searches at an address in Derbyshire are ongoing.
According to The Sun, the man, understood to be a former Rolls-Royce employee, was arrested over fears that classified information about the UK’s new multimillion-pound F-35 stealth fighter jets may have been passed on to China. Rolls-Royce was one of several UK companies with contracts to produce parts for the jet, which landed at RAF Marham in Norfolk last week.
Lockheed Martin, the jet’s manufacturer, originally put the fighters’ price at around £100 million ($134 million) each. According to a recent report by The Times, however, the cost could rise to as much as £150 million ($200 million). It is understood that the increase is due to parts needed to solve problems that were identified with the original design.
When the jets touched down in Norfolk, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier described the aircraft as “the future of our air power for decades to come.” A Rolls-Royce spokesman declined to make a statement, adding that the company could not comment on the arrest while the investigation was ongoing.
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