w/e 21st October 2022
Much spluttering from the usual Bufton Tuftons in their leather armchairs at the news that former Royal Air Force pilots are being lured by China to teach their pilots the secrets of western air combat tactics. Apparently salaries as much as £250,000 per annum are part of the package, and it’s no surprise that there may have been up to thirty former RAF takers so far.
The outrage centres round whether this constitutes a betrayal of British patriotic values and a danger to the present generation of our fighter and bomber boys should we ever find ourselves at war with China. Unlikely, you may say, but with tensions over Taiwan ramping up and the current state of the world otherwise one never knows.
Others have suggested that working for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and training their next generation of combat pilots muct surely be in breach of Britain’s Official Secrets Act, which all servicemen and women are obliged to sign up to. But unless there is hard evidence that its legislation is being breached there seems little that either the Ministry of Defence or British government can do.
The government has said that it is taking “decisive steps” to stop the migration and “protect our national security”, and would .review confidentiality clauses and non-disclosure agreements in contracts signed by former military personnel. The UK also plans to issue an intelligence alert to warn former military pilots against working for the Chinese military, a rare step in British military circles.
Current armed forces minister James Heappey has said that he thinks the UK “must change the law” in an effort to ensure pilots did not pass on intelligence to China in the future. Whether this can be done remains to be seen.