Australian scientist offered US$100 million to move to Beijing It reads like the plot of a James Bond thriller: an inventor comes up with a fearsome weapon capable of firing bullets at a rate of one million rounds a minute, promising to revolutionise the battlefields of the future. China gets wind of the project and offers tens of millions of dollars to tempt the scientist to start a new life in Beijing and reveal his secrets. But the weapon is not the creation of a fictitious evil genius bent on world domination, but a listed Australian defence firm. And the plot to poach it comes not from the pages of an Ian Fleming novel but, says the inventor, from real life. The weapon, called Metal Storm, was invented by Brisbane-based scientist Mike O'Dwyer, who has claimed that People's Liberation Army agents offered him more than US$100 million to move to China and develop the gun. 'What I was expected to do in Beijing was to divulge all the knowledge I had to enable prototypes to be built for the weapons system to be developed,' he told an Australian television channel. '[They] said, 'We don't need any Metal Storm weapons, we don't need any of the paper work, the history. What we want is you. We want you and your family in Beijing'.' Mr O'Dwyer kept details of all the approaches and passed on the information to an Australian intelligence agency. He said he was later approached by businessman Min Qiang, an executive at mainland recruitment company Fesco, through an Australian-Chinese businessman, Yang Jun. Mr Yang, who has since joined the Falun Gong and cut ties with his mainland contacts, backed up the claim. '[Min] said, 'Mr Yang, we have a proposition for you',' Mr Yang said. 'The Chinese Liberation Army wants to buy Metal Storm. It's very advanced technology. When you return to Australia, we want you to purchase it for us.' Mr O'Dwyer left the company Metal Storm a year ago, but the industrial espionage tactics, which apparently began a decade ago, were described yesterday by company executives, who said fresh approaches had been made in the past 12 months. 'We get calls from people representing all sorts of countries and organisations, but the implication of these was that the technology would end up in China,' said chief operating officer Ian Gillespie. Metal Storm was near the final prototype stage, he said, after successful testing by the US military. 'We expect production to start in the next 12 to 24 months.' Hailed as a revolution in weaponry, Metal Storm's firing mechanism is initiated electronically rather than by a firing pin. It has almost no recoil and no moving parts, making stoppages much less common than in normal firearms. Bullets or grenades can be fired at a rate of one million per minute, either from a single weapon or multiple barrels grouped together in 'pods'. In comparison, an Uzi machine gun fires at a rate of 3,000 rounds a minute. Mr O'Dwyer said: 'It can unleash all those projectiles in such a short time you only hear one bang.' The company's website says the technology can be applied to almost any calibre of weapon. 'Very few firearms revolutions have taken place in the past 60 or 70 years, but this is one of them,' said Ian Bostock, an analyst at Jane's Defence Weekly. A multi-barrelled Metal Storm would be able to direct withering fire at an enemy infantry or tank advance, or enable a warship to fend off a suicide boat attack. Mr Bostock said China was conducting a worldwide search for new military technology. 'I don't doubt for a moment that they'd try to poach it. They have a long and successful history of reverse engineering - acquiring kit from India or Russia or wherever, pulling it apart, and building their own version,' Mr Bostock said. The Chinese embassy would not comment on Mr O'Dwyer's claims.