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China Hires Dozens of British Ex-Pilots, UK Reacts

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By Augustine Mbam - - 5 Mins Read

A number of former service personnel of the British armed forces are accepting the controversial role of training Chinese military pilots. 

From sources who have a good knowledge of the situation, the move by the Chinese government was for them to get knowledge of how to defeat the West. 

Tensions have been in the air for weeks concerning the Russia-Ukraine drift and the China-Taiwan situation

The recruitment could mean that the Chinese government is getting ready for any altercation that may break out if they move to take back Taiwan. 

Not less than 30 former personnel of the British army were reportedly training pilots for the People's Liberation Army. A news outlet, Sky, reported that these pilots were lured with a lucrative salary of around £240,000 per annum. 

A defense analyst said that the act by the former British military Pilots is a breach of national security. There are fears that these pilots could reveal sensitive information to the Chinese government. 

A Western official said that the Chinese government is putting more effort into hiring people who formerly served in the Royal Navy and the British Army. On Tuesday, the British Ministry of Defence Intelligence Service said that the situation is grave and issued a "threat alert" to warn other serving and retired military personnel against such deals. 

According to a British official, the Chinese government is using third-party agencies to hire these persons. They use companies and then lure the former British military Pilots with lucrative salaries. 

The British official released the name of a suspected company responsible for hiring the ex-British Pilots. The company's name was The Test Flying Academy of South Africa

However, the official stated that the company's name has no connection with the South African government.

What is the UK Government Doing? 

From what security and defense analysts are saying, the UK government is very much in a helpless situation. 

Despite the potential harm the illegal recruitment could have on UK national security, there's nothing the UK government can do now other than issuing warnings. 

The Defense Ministry officials are saying that what the former British military pilots are doing is a breach of the Official Secrets Act. The official also pointed out that those involved will face a criminal offense charge. 

"We are taking measures to dissuade current and former pilots from being recruited, and we want to avoid any perception by China that our previous silence on this matter is misinterpreted as our acceptance or approval of this activity," the British Defence official said.

Why is China Carrying on With the Recruitment?

As revealed by a British official, it appears the Chinese government is trying to inculcate their local pilots leveraging the versatile experience of the former British military pilots. 

Going into details, most of the pilots being recruited are those with a long experience from flying NATO and British Warplanes.

With the former pilots' experience, they can teach the Chinese pilots how to counter the moves of NATO and British Warplanes. 

A British defense official said, "it's really the Chinese having an understanding of what the latest generation of tactics and approaches and capabilities would be, were the Chinese military to get into situations coming up against those types of assets."