MoD says that ex-UK pilots were lured, to help the Chinese military


A spokesperson from the Ministry of Defence said the training and the recruiting of pilots do not breach any current UK law officials in the UK other countries are trying to deter the activity.
It is a lucrative package offered to people, said one Western official, adding that money is a strong motivator. Some packages are thought to be as much as £237,911 ($270,000).

The retired British pilots are being used to help understand how Western planes and pilots operate, information that could be vital in events of any conflict, such as over Taiwan.
Western officials said they were the attractive body of people to pass on that knowledge. It takes Western pilots of great experience to help develop Chinese military air force tactics and capabilities.
A Spokesman for Prime Minister Liz Truss said the government was taking decisive steps to stop the headhunting and protect our national security.
He pointed to a review of confidentiality clauses and non-disclosure agreements in contracts signed by former military personnel.

Armed pressures minister James Heappey said the UK must change the law to ensure pilots did not pass on intelligence to China in the future.
It certainly does not match my understanding of service of our nation – even in retirement – to go and work with a foreign power, especially one that challenges the UK interest so keenly, he told BBC Radio today program.
The UK first became aware of a small number of cases of former military pilots recruited in 2019 that dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The Covid-19 pandemic slowed attempts down when travel to China was almost impossible attempt have now increased, leading to this alert.

They have seen it ramp up significantly – it was an ongoing issue, a Western official said in a briefing to journalists. Current serving personnel targeted none thought to have accepted.
The pilots have experience on fast jets and helicopters and come from across the military, not just the Royal Air Force. They flew Typhoons, Jaguars, Harriers, and Tornados.
F-35 pilots are not involved. China thought to be interested in them. Some pilots are in their late 50s and left the military some time ago. Pilots of other allied were targeted nations.

Officers said they were being drafted through intermediary headhunters and cited a particular flying academy based in South Africa as being involved.
There is no evidence that pilots have broken the Official Secrets Act or they committed any crime. The alert aims to deter activity and inform current staff and industry partners and remind personnel of their obligations to protect sensitive information.

They were taking decisive steps to stop Chinese recruitment schemes attempting to headhunt serving and former UK armed forces pilots to train Liberation Army personnel in the Republic of China, an MoD spokesperson said.
All performing and ex-personnel were already subject to the Official Secrets Act, and we are reviewing the use of confidentiality contracts and non-disclosure agreements across security, the new National Security Bill will create additional tools to tackle contemporary security challenges – including this one.
The United Kingdom warns of the risk of prosecution of former UK military pilots that train Chinese Servicemen and sees the practice as undermining the UK’s defense advantage, the defense ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

When former UK military pilots provide training to the People’s Liberation Army of China, it erodes the UK’s defense advantage. We are taking immediate steps to deter and penalize this activity, the ministry said in a tweet.
So far, 30 former British military pilots are said to have been recruited, including from the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and other branches of the armed forces. Several of these pilots have experience flying Eurofighter Typhoon, the Harrier, Jaguar, and Tornado.

Notably, none of the pilots recruited so far have operated the fifth-generation F-35, the most advanced and expensive aircraft in the RAF’s fleet.
While these pilots are training their counterparts from the PLA Air Force pilots on Chinese fighter planes, according to the official, the Chinese are keen to learn about British and Western tactics and procedures.

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Olivia Wilson
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