When China lures former combat pilots from US, UK, Australia to train PLA pilots

When China lures former combat pilots from US UK Australia to train PLA pilots

When China lures former combat pilots from US UK Australia to train PLA pilots


As various Western media reports suggest that China is luring former combat pilots from US, UK, Australia and New Zealand to train People’s Liberation Army pilots, ThePrint Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta decodes why this growing trend is dangerous for the world and what it could mean for India in episode 1108 of #CutTheClutter

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China revealed its latest anti-ship hypersonic missile, a version of the YJ-21, to the public for the first time at an air show on Tuesday, the South China Morning Post reported. Amid increased tension with the US over Taiwan, the revelation of the missile is being seen as a message to Washington.

Two missiles bearing the designation ‘2PZD-21’ were seen under the wings of a Xian H-6K strategic bomber at the opening of Airshow China in the coastal city of Zhuhai, the Hong-Kong-based newspaper reported. The YJ-21 was previously seen on video being test-fired from a People’s Liberation Army Navy destroyer in April, as the USS Abraham Lincoln took part in joint drills with Japan near the Korean peninsula.

Other media reports have suggested that the missiles, spotted several days earlier, are in fact variants of the CM-401, previously known as truck- or ship-launched hypersonic missiles with a shorter range of 300 kilometers.

With the air show taking place after China and Taiwan held competing military exercises following the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei in August, showcasing the missile is an attempt at “warning the US not to intervene in Beijing’s plan to take Taiwan back by force, as none of the US sea-based air defense systems are able to intercept the hypersonic missile,” defense analyst Andrei Chang told the paper.

China test-fires hypersonic anti-ship missile – reports (VIDEO)
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China test-fires hypersonic anti-ship missile – reports (VIDEO)

Beijing has publicly stated that it intends to reintegrate Taiwan with the Chinese mainland by peaceful means. In a white paper published in August, the Chinese government affirmed this commitment to peaceful means, but reserved “the option of taking all necessary measures."

Similar in shape to Russia’s nuclear-capable Kh-47 Kinzhal hypersonic missile, the YJ-21 is thought to have a range of more than 2,000 kilometers. Moscow has deployed the Mach 12 Kinzhal against static targets in Ukraine but has not fired it against warships, which it is designed to sink in a single strike.

As Airshow China began, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on Tuesday for the People’s Liberation Army to be ready to “resolutely defend national sovereignty, security, and development interests.” With the world undergoing changes “unseen in a century,” Xi said that the entire military “must implement the [Communist] Party’s idea of strengthening the army in the new era.”

RCMP Investigating Allegations of Former Canadian Fighter Pilots Training Chinese Military Aviators

The RCMP has confirmed it is investigating allegations that former Canadian military pilots were involved in training Chinese military pilots.

In an emailed statement on Nov. 8, the RCMP said it is looking into reports of former pilots from the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) allegedly training Chinese military pilots at a South African flight school.

“The RCMP is aware of the report of former RCAF pilots taking part in training People’s Liberation Army Air Force pilots and is collaborating with our partners to determine what investigational action, if any, may be undertaken,” said Cpl. Kim Chamberland, spokesperson for RCMP national headquarters in Ottawa.

“While for operational reasons we cannot speak at length about this, it is within the RCMP’s mandate to investigate this activity should there be criminal or illegal activities occurring in Canada that are found to be backed by a foreign state,” she said, adding that “various methods and techniques are in place to combat foreign actor interference within the RCMP’s mandate.”

The confirmation came after The Epoch Times sought clarification from the federal Department of National Defence (DND) on Nov. 7, to which the department replied on the same day that the Mounties will be leading the investigation.

The DND had said in an earlier statement on Oct. 27 that it would investigate the allegations. “We are aware of these reports, and we are looking into this further with federal partners,” the department said.

During a hearing before the parliamentary National Defence committee on Nov. 3, Brigadier-General Denis Boucher, director of General Defence Security at DND, told MPs that the investigation does not fall within the jurisdiction of his department and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

“When members retire from the Canadian Armed Forces, they become civilians, as any other Canadian civilian, and they fall under the jurisdiction of those federal partners,” said Boucher, adding that former members are still bound by the provisions of the Security of Information Act.

“I don’t necessarily speak with the federal partners personally based on my role, but the federal partners that we are in contact with would be the Department of Justice, and they would have to look at the investigation, presumably from the RCMP perspective.”

National Security

The BBC reported on Oct. 18 that around 30 former British military pilots had been recruited by Oudtshoorn-based flight school Test Flying Academy of South Africa (TFASA) to train China’s PLA Air Force with lucrative compensation packages of about 240,000 pounds (CA$370,000) a year.

The report added that the headhunted pilots were being asked to provide vital and sensitive information, such as how Western planes and pilots operate, in exchange for the salaries.

Another article published by the Daily Mail on Oct. 17 stated that the media outlet was told “fast-jet pilots from Australia and Canada have also been lured to China on huge contracts.”

Several other media outlets reported TFASA has been acting as the middleman for the PLA in recruiting pilots from the UK, Australia, and other Western countries.

On Oct. 18, the UK’s defence ministry issued a series of alerts on Twitter saying that the department will engage with the involved pilots to “ensure they are fully aware of the risk of prosecution under the Officials Secrets Act.”

The DND’s statement on Oct. 27 similarly stated any behaviour of its members that harms the Canadian national interest will be dealt with appropriately.

“The Security of Information Act applies to both current and former members, and non-compliance with the Act could result in serious consequences,” the department said.

“As an institution that upholds democratic principles and the rule of law, we trust and expect current and former CAF members to adhere to the values of the institution.”


The Globe and Mail reported on Nov. 3 that it received a statement by TFASA, confirming that the academy employs ex-RCAF pilots.

“Most of the Canadian guys would be former RCAF but some of them may be people who trained privately or are civilian-trained pilots,” the company said.

In his testimony on Nov. 3, Boucher said the military cannot do much about it.

“We are aware of the allegations and obviously this matter is very concerning to us,” Boucher told committee members.

“But we know that these are post-employment activities,” he said. “They don’t fall in the jurisdiction of the Canadian Armed Forces.”

The brigadier general added that DND and CAF are ready to assist federal partners in their investigation.

“We’re worried, of course, about the security of our members, and our responsibilities when it comes to Canada’s defence. So we’re prepared to collaborate with our federal partners and other departments in order to figure out the risk to our information, to our members, and to our national defence.”

Bloc Québécois MP Christine Normandin asked Boucher whether there is a risk of Canada’s and NATO’s military strategies being acquired by the Chinese pilots through the alleged training given by the former fighter pilots.

“I would say that there’s always the possibility of a risk. Indeed, our pilots work with other NATO countries, with our allies, be it with the Canadian unit or with other allies, and of course, we share the concerns of our allies when it comes to these allegations,” Boucher replied.

“But having said that, we trust our members. And we want to trust retirees too. And we hope they will maintain their obligations under the information protection act.”

U.S. allies alarmed that China is poaching veteran military pilots

'Number of cases' being investigated.

Western allies are taking steps to deter former military pilots from obtaining employment as trainers for Chinese military pilots, as reports emerged recently of former military personnel giving aid to China’s military, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles announced Wednesday the government would review national security rules after completing an investigation into whether any former Australian military personnel had signed on with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to provide services to the PRC military. The U.K. called for similar legislation in October after reports surfaced that multiple former Royal Air Force pilots actively helped the Chinese military, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“It’s really important that we have the most robust framework possible that is in place to protect Australia’s information and protect our secrets,” Marles said.

Marles acknowledged reports that individuals had approached retired Australian defense personnel on behalf of China, stopping short of confirming whether any advances were successful. The Australian Department of Defense conducted a preliminary investigation, which stirred up “enough concerns” that Marles asked the ministry to execute a thorough review of “policies and procedures that apply to our former Defence personnel, and particularly those who come into possession of our nation’s secrets.”

The Australian government is investigating “a number of cases,” Marles said, but he declined to give specific examples of Australian military personnel helping China’s military.

In October, the U.K. government laid out a series of actions, including new national security legislation, in effort to safeguard against further PRC attempts to recruit Western military talent, the WSJ reported. China recruited as many as 18 highly-skilled pilots who retired from the British military to train fighters in the People’s Liberation Army, according to The New York Times.

A senior British official said instances of former military pilots, some of whom flew advanced fighter jets, going to work for the People’s Liberation Army had grown more frequent in recent months, the NYT reported. The official worried the practice could threaten the UK’s national security and said the U.K. was collaborating with allies, some of whom Beijing has also targeted for recruiting trainers.

On Monday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sentenced Shapour Moinian, former U.S. army aviator, to 20 months in prison for selling military secrets to the Chinese government.

Moinian worked for U.S. defense contractors on aviation projects used by the U.S. military and intelligence agencies for nearly 20 years after separation from the U.S. Army in 2000, according to a DOJ press release. While working for an unnamed contractor, a Chinese operative claiming to work for a technology company recruited Moinian to consult for the PRC military and provide sensitive technology obtained through his work.

China’s foreign ministry told the WSJ it was not familiar with the situation. The Chinese Embassy did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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