Air Force: "Threat to national security": China recruits ex-fighter pilots from NATO countries

Beijing has been using a method to gain Western know-how and circumvent sanctions for years.

Air Force: "Threat to national security": China recruits ex-fighter pilots from NATO countries

Beijing has been using a method to gain Western know-how and circumvent sanctions for years. Beijing simply buys the best experts from around the world. The People's Liberation Army is now using this trick. In order to strengthen their own military power, former fighter pilots from NATO countries act as trainers in China. From Great Britain alone 30 pilots are to take part in the program, reports the "Daily Mail", citing government officials.

Everyone should receive a salary of £250,000 – equivalent to around EUR 290,000. This export of know-how is not prohibited by law, but would threaten national security. In addition to the British, pilots from Canada and Australia are said to have been recruited. The program is organized by third parties who approach the pilots through intermediaries. A private flight school from South Africa is to handle the pilot assignment. The program started back in 2019 but then paused due to the Covid pandemic.

"These personnel are almost certainly helping to enhance China's knowledge and capabilities. If we do not intervene, these activities will almost certainly undermine the defensive advantage of the UK and our allies," an anonymous official told the paper. "We provide alerts to people who are at risk of being poached. We also remind employees of their obligation to protect sensitive information obtained during their employment."

Former British intelligence official Philip Ingram told the newspaper: "This is a massive problem for counterintelligence. The Chinese will try by any means necessary to obtain detailed information about what the pilots know about British and Allied tactics, as well as about the technologies of our military aircraft. I think the pilots are misguided, greedy and naïve and now a threat to national security."

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