Officials say that China has been recruiting ex-military pilots from the UK in order to “enhance China’s military knowledge and capability”. Dozens have been hired to teach the Chinese armed forces to take down Western warplanes and helicopters in an apparent “threat to UK interests”, reports claim.
One official said around 30 ex-fast jet and helicopter pilots are now training pilots for the People’s Liberation Army.
A retired senior Royal Air Force officer said: “Wow… that is appalling. What were they thinking?”
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Defence Intelligence Service issued a “threat alert” to warn serving and retired personnel about approaches from China.
The Chinese Government have been using third party head hunters and a company based in South Africa to recruit these pilots, although an official stressed it had no connection to the South African Government.
The Western official said the recruitment schemes posed “a threat to UK and Western interests” and were viewed with “concern and disapproval”, reported Sky News.
The official added that all British former service personnel who have accepted jobs to train Chinese military pilots, “are almost certainly enhancing China’s military knowledge and capability”.
The MoD said it wad taking measures to make it harder for China to act in such a way.
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The official added: “It’s not training Chinese pilots on Western jets. It’s taking Western pilots of great experience to help develop Chinese military air force tactics and capabilities.
“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.”
A spokesperson for the MoD said: “We are taking decisive steps to stop Chinese recruitment schemes attempting to headhunt serving and former UK Armed Forces pilots to train People’s Liberation Army personnel in the People’s Republic of China.”