Western intelligence officials believe the Soviet Union has greatly accelerated its industrial espionage efforts in West Germany as part of an expanded campaign to bridge the technology gap with the West.

The emphasis on stealing industrial secrets in West Germany has become so pronounced that, in terms of money and manpower, it has assumed greater priority for the Soviet Union than more "classic" goals such as infiltrating government ministries, officials said.

The anxiety among western allies over the extent of industrial spying here has intensified since the arrest last month of Manfred Rotsch, 60, an aircraft engineer and planning manager for Messerschmidt-Boelkow-Blohm, West Germany's top aerospace company.

Rotsch is accused of passing to the Soviets critical information about European aircraft programs, including the Tornado fighter plane built by West Germany, Britain and Italy. It is feared that Rotsch may have conveyed plans so vital that the Tornado's effectiveness may be jeopardized.

After initial interrogations, West German officials have reportedly concluded that the Rotsch case could represent the most harmful hemorrhage of industrial secrets here since World War II.

Some intelligence officials are convinced that because of the kind of information compromised, the Rotsch case surpasses in importance that of Gunter Guillaume, a close adviser to then-chancellor Willy Brandt, whose unmasking as a spy caused Brandt to resign in 1974.

"The damage done to our country through this treason is irreparable and its dimensions have still not been fully assessed," declared Carl Dieter Spranger, state secretary in the Interior Ministry, in a speech yesterday.

Spanger claimed that Rotsch's revelations had proved "with frightening significance" how the East Bloc was engaged in massive and systematic espionage in West Germany to procure access to high technology that could be applied to the military sector.

West Germany has always been considered fertile ground for Soviet spies because of the special relationship with East Germany.

Since West Germany only recognizes one German nationality, East Germans are granted immediate citizenship when they manage to emigrate. More than 35,000 East Germans have settled in the West this year, and some of them are undoubtedly coming over for long-term espionage purposes, officials said.

As many as 10,000 East Bloc spies are now said to be operating in West Germany, according to the federal prosecutor, Kurt Rebmann. A large number of them are believed to be technicians or scientific professionals working for the KGB's so-called T-section that specializes in industrial secrets.

Western intelligence experts believe that the current Soviet Bloc drive to acquire industrial secrets has been concentrated on four sectors: aerospace, electronics, chemicals and nuclear energy.

Many Soviet Bloc spies effectively exploit the quiet demeanor and middle class conservative politics that often characterize the professional class in science and industry here to elude detection, western intelligence officials say.

Rotsch is considered to be a prime example of the diffident technician who managed to avoid public suspicion during what officials believe were three decades of espionage service for the Soviet Union.

Rotsch emigrated from East Germany in 1954, according to the public prosecutor's report. He worked for several firms as an engineer before joining Messerschmidt-Boelkow-Blohm, the country's aerospace giant with 40,000 employes and a turnover of close to $2 billion a year.

The father of three children. Rotsch, who loved long walks in the woods, apparently lived a tranquil life in a Munich suburb. He became a member of the conservative political party, the Christian Social Union, and even ran as a Christian Social Union candidate preaching right-wing virtues in Bavarian township elections six years ago.

Rotsch was uncovered only after West German intelligence caught a Frankfurt employe of Aeroflot, the Soviet airline, in the act of retrieving secret documents hidden in a forest.

The public prosecutor's spokesman, Alexander Prechtel, said that Rotsch has probably betrayed the complete plans for the Tornado fighter plane. "He had access to all of the aviation and space programs," Prechtel said. "We still have to find out exactly what has been transmitted to the KGB."

Besides the Tornado, Messerschmidt is involved in building the Airbus, the Transall military trasport plane, advanced helicopters and a range of missiles such as Roland, Milan and Hot. Earlier this year, the U.S. Army agreed to purchase 7,000 of the antiaircraft Roland missiles to equip the Patriot air defense system. Christian Social Union candidate preaching right-wing virtues in Bavarian township elections six years ago.

Rotsch was uncovered only after West German intelligence caught a Frankfurt employe of Aeroflot, the Soviet airline, in the act of retrieving secret documents hidden in a forest.

The public prosecutor's spokesman, Alexander Prechtel, said that Rotsch has probably betrayed the complete plans for the Tornado fighter plane. "He had access to all of the aviation and space programs," Prechtel said. "We still have to find out exactly what has been transmitted to the KGB."

Besides the Tornado, Messerschmidt is involved in building the Airbus, the Transall military trasport plane, advanced helicopters and a range of missiles such as Roland, Milan and Hot. Earlier this year, the U.S. Army agreed to purchase 7,000 of the antiaircraft Roland missiles to equip the Patriot air defense system.