A former Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) engineer has been sentenced to 32 years in prison for providing secret defense information to China, exporting technical military data and other crimes, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.

It said Noshir Gowadia, 66, who the defense firm employed from 1968 to 1986 and who then worked on classified projects as a U.S. government contractor, received the sentence late on Monday from a federal judge in Hawaii, where Gowadia lives.

The sentencing followed last week's four-day visit to the United States of Chinese President Hu Jintao, which included talks with President Barack Obama and announcement of numerous commercial deals.

According to evidence presented during the trial, Gowadia from 2003 to 2005 took six trips to China to provide information to assist China with a cruise missile system by developing an exhaust nozzle resistant to detection.

When Gowadia was arrested in 2005, he had been paid at least $110,000 by China, the Justice Department said.

He was found guilty by a federal jury in August of five criminal offenses involving his design for the cruise missile exhaust system. He also was convicted of unlawfully exporting classified information about the U.S. B-2 bomber.

Mr. Gowadia provided some of our country's most sensitive weapons-related designs to the Chinese government for money, said Assistant Attorney General David Kris, who is in charge of the Justice Department's national security division.

The jury convicted Gowadia of two specific transmissions of classified information, the department said.

One involved a PowerPoint presentation on the exhaust nozzle and an evaluation of the effectiveness of a redesigned nozzle, and the other involved a computer file giving his prediction of a missile outfitted with his modified nozzle.

U.S. intelligence officials have said that spying by China and Russia has reached levels near that of the Cold War, and that China has been seeking U.S. research and development to boost its military capabilities.

On Friday, a Michigan man received a four-year prison sentence for trying to get a job with the CIA so he could spy for China.

Glenn Shriver, 29, pleaded guilty in October in federal court in Virginia to conspiracy to communicate national defense information after admitting he met Chinese officials about 20 times and took about $70,000 from Chinese intelligence officers.