Chinese businessman Su Bin has been charged by US authorities with hacking into the computer systems of Boeing and other companies with large defense contracts.
Su Bin, who was arrested in Canada last month, is accused of working with two other suspects to steal data about military projects and sell it to China.
Prosecutors said Su Bin was targeting information about fighter jets, military cargo aircraft and weapons.
A 2013 US report identified industrial spying from China as a growing threat.
There has been no specific allegation of involvement by the Chinese government in Su Bin’s case, but the US has accused China of systematically stealing American high-tech data for its national gain.
The US Department of Justice recently indicted five Chinese military officers for hacking into US businesses – charges dismissed by China as a fabrication.
Su Bin reportedly runs a Chinese aviation technology company with an office in Canada.
He was detained on June 28 while trying to gain Canadian citizenship, US authorities said.
They allege that Su Bin and his co-conspirators have been trying to sell the stolen data to state-owned firms in China.
The justice department said it “remained deeply concerned about cyber-enabled theft of sensitive information”.
“We have repeatedly made it clear that the United States will continue using all the tools our government possesses to strengthen cyber-security and confront cyber-crime,” spokesman Marc Raimondi said.
Boeing released a statement saying it was co-operating with the US authorities to hold accountable “individuals who perpetrate economic espionage or trade secret theft against US companies”.
Su Bin is scheduled to appear in court for a bail hearing next week.