China Headhunting Former British Military Pilots - Report

18 October 2022

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The UK Military have issued a warning after a BBC investigation showed that upto 30 former British RAF pilots had accepted contracts with the Chinese military to conduct training and pass on expertise.

The BBC reported that the recruitment did not break any rules but that the Ministry of Defence were trying to deter the practice amid a rise in recent headhunting with lucrative packages of up to $270,000 on offer.

Valuable information that the British pilots were able to give the China's People's Liberation Army included insight into how Western planes and pilots operate.

"They are a very attractive body of people to then pass on that knowledge," an unnamed Western official told the BBC. "It's taking Western pilots of great experience to help develop Chinese military air force tactics and capabilities."

The report said that individuals were being recruited through intermediaries, with a pilot flying academy in South Africa mentioned as being involved.

British Armed forces minister James Heappey said rules must change to stop the practice.

"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," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.


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