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Ex-UK pilots were recruited by Chinese military: MoD

It is alleged that former British military pilots are being enticed to China with substantial sums of money in order to impart their knowledge to the Chinese military.

The People’s Liberation Army of China is said to have received training from up to 30 former UK military pilots.

In order to discourage former military pilots from joining the Chinese military, the UK has issued an intelligence notice.

Western officials claim that efforts to headhunt pilots are underway and have lately intensified.

According to a Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesperson, no current UK legislation is broken by the training and recruitment of pilots, but officials in the UK and other nations are attempting to stop the practise.

One western official remarked, ‘It is a lucrative bundle that is being provided to people. Some of the packages are reported to be worth up to £237,911 ($270,000), which is a powerful inducement.’

In order to better understand how Western aircraft and pilots operate, retired British pilots are being used. This knowledge could be crucial in the event of a conflict, such as one over Taiwan.

A Western official stated, ‘They are a highly desirable group of people to then pass on that information.’ Chinese military air force tactics and capabilities are being developed with the assistance of highly experienced Western pilots.

A tiny number of examples of ex-military pilots being hired were initially brought to the UK’s attention in 2019 and were handled on an individual basis. Travel to China was virtually impossible before the Covid-19 outbreak, but attempts have since picked up, prompting this caution.

In a briefing to media, a western official said, ‘We’ve seen it ramp up significantly.’ Current serving personnel are being targeted, but it’s believed that none of them have agreed.

The pilots have prior experience operating swift aircraft, including helicopters, and come from a variety of military branches in addition to the Royal Air Force. They have been flown by Typhoons, Jaguars, Harriers, and Tornadoes.

Although China is rumoured to be interested in them, F-35 pilots are not believed to be involved. Many of the pilots are in their late 50s and have long since left the military. Other ally nations’ pilots have also come under attack.

Officials asserted that they are being employed by intermediaries headhunters and specified a particular flight academy with a base in South Africa as being involved.

There is no evidence that any pilots have committed a crime or broken the Official Secrets Act. The alert’s goals are to attempt to halt activity, inform current staff members and business partners, and remind staff members of their duty to protect sensitive information.


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