According to the BBC, up to 30 ex-pilots from the Royal Air Force may have travelled to China to instruct the People’s Liberation Army, which is now training the Chinese Air Force to battle the West.
According to the Washington Post, the United Kingdom has issued a threat alert advising to its former military pilots not to be seduced by China’s offers of lucrative contracts to train their armed forces. The threat alert cites worries over national security and combat techniques.
According to the BBC, up to 30 pilots from the Royal Air Force may have travelled to China to instruct the People’s Liberation Army while receiving salaries of up to £237,911 ($270,000).
“It is a lucrative package that is being offered to people,” said one Western official, who added that “money is a strong motivator.”
The retired British pilots are being used to help understand the way in which Western planes and pilots operate, information which could be vital in the event of any conflict, such as over Taiwan.
“They are a very attractive body of people to then pass on that knowledge,” a Western official said. “It’s taking Western pilots of great experience to help develop Chinese military air force tactics and capabilities.”BBC
“It certainly doesn’t match my understanding of service of our nation – even in retirement – to then go and work with a foreign power, especially one that challenges the UK interest so keenly,” British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told Sky News in an interview Tuesday, adding “China is a competitor that is threatening the U.K. interest in many places around the world.
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“There’s been a concern within the MOD for a number of years,” referring to the Ministry of Defense.
Although it is not currently against UK law to train PLA pilots, this situation has caused UK authorities to contemplate making it a felony to accept contracts to train personnel from specific foreign forces.
An official hinted that experienced pilots of the UK’s allies have also been sought, suggesting that the recruitment efforts of China may not be confined to UK veterans; instead, a South African test flying academy is acting as a middleman. An Australian Air Force veteran claimed to have been promised roughly $1 million annually, according to CNBC.
“We have approached the people that are involved and been clear with them that it’s our expectation they would not continue to be part of that organization, and we are going to put into law, that once people have been given that warning, it will become an offense to then go forward and continue with that training,” Heappey added.
He underscored that Beijing was an “important” partner for Britain but said China had made “no secret in their attempt to gain access to our secrets, and their recruitment of our pilots in order to understand the capabilities of our air force is clearly a concern to us.” -WaPo
Serious questions for the RAF👇
We should not be surprised by China’s audacity in luring UK pilots to learn about our tactics.
But we should be surprised there’s nothing akin to the ‘Official Secrets Act’ preventing this – And the absence of patriotism of those involved. pic.twitter.com/uyGKlRv8jC— Tobias Ellwood MP (@Tobias_Ellwood) October 18, 2022
Tobias Elwood, a conservative MP, said that British citizenship should be taken away from RAF veterans who train the Chinese.
The Chinese recruitment programme is a “contemporary” security challenge, according to the British Ministry of Defense. “All serving and former personnel are already subject to the Official Secrets Act, and we are reviewing the use of confidentiality contracts and non-disclosure agreements across Defense,” the Ministry of Defense of Britain said.
According to the Post, the law covers crimes involving espionage, sabotage, and the illegal sharing of public information by specific government officials.
“We are taking decisive steps to stop Chinese recruitment schemes attempting to headhunt serving and former UK Armed Forces pilots to train People’s Liberation Army personnel,” the MOD continued.