Russia's intelligence service said Wednesday it has detained an alleged Chinese spy who tried to obtain designs of an advanced missile system as part of Beijing's efforts to update its weaponry.
The Chinese national, who worked as an interpreter for visiting Chinese officials, made attempts to buy documentation for the S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile system, the Federal Security Service said in a statement. He faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted.
Prosecutors submitted the case to the Moscow City Court Wednesday, although the man was detained late last October, it said.
The truck-mounted S-300 is capable of shooting down aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missile warheads at ranges of over 90 miles (144 kilometers) and at altitudes of about 90,000 feet (27,432 meters).
In recent years, Russia banned the sale of the S-300 systems to Iran and Syria following international pressure.
Beijing has for decades been a No. 1 buyer of Russian weapons, including aircraft and submarines. Chinese developers often combine old Soviet platforms with new Chinese technology _ Beijing's first aircraft carrier unveiled in August is a refurbished Soviet ship.
In 2011, China's defense budget grew 12.7 percent to $91.5 billion, the largest in the world after the United States.
In early September, two professors of a military academy in St. Petersburg were charged with espionage for allegedly selling Russian military secrets to China. And in 2007, four Russian defense officials were sentenced to up to 11 years in jail for selling missile delivery technologies to Beijing for $2 million.