China hiring Western pilots ‘unacceptable’: UK Air Force chief

The chief of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) has said it is “unacceptable” that former military pilots have been recruited to train the Chinese military, and Western intelligence agencies have shared information that I’m warning pilots against working.

The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced in October 2022 that around 30 former high-speed jet and helicopter pilots will be deployed to help train China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in a lucrative compensation package of around $270,000 per year. An intelligence alert was issued after it was reported attracted. .

In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) at the Avalon Air Show in Australia on Wednesday, RAF Air Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said: It was unacceptable and ready to publicly denounce China. ”

Since then, he said, “many people” have reported to authorities that they have been approached.

The RAF chief said he was “confident” the UK had “nipped” the threat “in the bud”.

Wigston added that the UK is sharing information on the issue with other Western allies, including Australia, which are facing similar problems.

Epoch Times photo
Air Force Colonel Mike Wigston (left) and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a visit to RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, UK, December 9, 2022. (Joe Giddens – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

A top Australian intelligence official said last week that the country’s security services have been chasing veterans willing to sell their military training and expertise to foreign governments for years.

In the latest annual threat assessment, Mike Burgess, head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, said:

He said there have been cases where former insiders have been stopped from traveling abroad to provide training. [in other cases] Legal ambiguity has hampered law enforcement’s ability to intervene. ”


British media reported last year that the People’s Liberation Army recruitment was done through a third party.

The pilot is reported to have served not only in the RAF, but throughout the British Armed Forces.

Regarding the revelations at the time, Conservative MP Alicia Kearns, who chairs the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said on Twitter: of labeling it as a “threat” to our security. New and robust measures should be considered to address this type of critical security loophole. ”

Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the House Select Committee on Defense, said the RAF had “serious problems.”

He wrote on Twitter: But it is surprising that there is no equivalent of the Official Secrets Act to prevent this, and the lack of patriotism on the part of those involved. ”

Epoch Times photo
This undated photo taken in April 2018 shows a J-15 multirole fighter on the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning during training at sea. (AFP/Getty Images)

security alert

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said last October it had issued an intelligence alert warning pilots not to participate in China’s military training programme.

Defense Secretary James Heapy said the Defense Department had already contacted those involved and “doesn’t expect them to continue to be part of the organization.”

“We plan to enact legislation that after a warning has been given, continuing that training is a violation,” he told Sky News.

“China is a competitor that threatens British interests in many parts of the world.” ”

In a statement, the Defense Department said it was trying to stop recruiting both former and active pilots.

A spokesperson said:

“Although all active and former personnel are already subject to the Official Secrets Act and we are considering the use of non-disclosure agreements and non-disclosure agreements throughout the defense, the new national security bill will not allow modern create additional tools to tackle the security challenges of

But one of the brokers said to be hiring British pilots on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army claimed the pilots did not share classified information with the Chinese government.

South Africa’s Test Flying Academy, which trains pilots and engineers around the world, said it had been in contact with the defense ministry for “many years” and that the agency was “fully aware of the nature of the company’s business”.

Reuters and PA Media contributed to this report.