With the average annual salary around $40,000 in the country, the lucrative offer is being passed through third-party head hunters located in other nations.
China is hiring former British pilots, who worked in the Royal Air Force (RAF), to train its own pilots, reported the New York Times. The country has already hired a group of 30 former RAF pilots, including those who have flown sophisticated jets, the UK’s Ministry of Defence told NYT. Officials are concerned about the practice having detrimental effects on the UK’s national security.
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While the former pilots are not suspected of falling afoul of UK’s espionage laws, the Official Secrets Act, the UK is looking to tighten controls to stop the practice. “We are taking decisive steps to stop Chinese recruitment schemes attempting to head hunt serving and former UK Armed Forces pilots to train People’s Liberation Army personnel in the People’s Republic of China,” a spokesperson told NYT.
The British pilots have experience in flying mainstay fighter jets like the Typhoon, Harrier, Jaguar and Tornado. But none of them has flown the F-35, currently the most advanced combat-capable fighter in the RAF and NATO arsenal. The pilots have been training their Chinese counterparts on Chinese-made jets but are able to teach valuable doctrines used by the RAF and NATO, in terms of air operations.
The Chinese are offering a $270,000 (around Rs 2.2 crore) annual contract to the pilots who retired from active duty several years ago. With the average annual salary around $40,000 in the country, the lucrative offer is being passed through third-party head hunters located in other nations. The UK is not the only target of this scheme. China has been looking for trained and retired fighter pilots from other Western nations as well.
“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,” a source told Sky News.
With relations between western nations and China nearing an all-time low over the increasing frustrations that both sides have with each other, the battle intelligence that China will be able to gather using this scheme can be problematic for the western nations.
(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)