A Chinese businessman who pleaded guilty to hacking sensitive US military information was sentenced to nearly four years in prison, prosecutors have said.

Su Bin, 51, was charged on Wednesday with taking part in a years-long scheme by Chinese military officers to hack into the computer networks of aircraft manufacturer Boeing and other major US defence contractors.

In addition to a 46-month prison term, a US District Court judge in Los Angeles ordered Su to pay a $10,000 fine.

"Su Bin's sentence is a just punishment for his admitted role in a conspiracy with hackers from the People's Liberation Army Air Force to illegally access and steal sensitive US military information," John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement.

"Su assisted the Chinese military hackers in their efforts to illegally access and steal designs for cutting-edge military aircraft that are indispensable to our national defence," he said.

In an August 2014 indictment, prosecutors said that Su travelled to the United States at least 10 times between 2008 and 2014 and worked with two unidentified co-conspirators based in China to steal the data. He was arrested in Canada in 2014 and later consented to US extradition. 

The trio were accused of stealing plans relating to the C-17 military transport plane and F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, and attempting to sell them to Chinese companies.

According to prosecutors, in pleading guilty Su admitted sending emails to his co-conspirators telling them which people, companies and technologies to target with their hacking, and translating the stolen material from English to Chinese.

Su admitted taking part in the crime for financial gain, prosecutors said.

The Chinese government has repeatedly denied any involvement in hacking.

Source: Agencies