Schandalig dat er vliegers zijn die zich daarvoor lenen. Schijnbaar zijn er momenteel geen regels die dit verbieden. Hopelijk leidt dit wel tot aanpassing van de regels zodat er bijvoorbeeld eerst vooraf toestemming gevraagd moet worden bij defensie. En als dat niet gebeurd, zeer zware straffen opleggen.
The South African company, Test Flying Academy of South Africa (TFASA), did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on whether it had hired Australian pilots to work in China.
In an undated advertisement with the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP) available online, TFASA said it was seeking a number of fixed wing and helicopter test pilot instructors to work at an undisclosed location in "Far East Asia" with an initial contract commitment of four years.
The requirements included having graduated from military test flight schools in the United States or Britain.
The ad was sent to all SETP members, said one based in Australia, who could not recall the date.
"I don't know anyone who has gone, but they're clearly targeting Western/Five Eyes test pilots," the SETP member told Reuters on condition of anonymity, referring to the intelligence group of Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. "We all go to the schools they listed."
TFASA also runs a flight school for Chinese airline pilots in South Africa as a joint venture with one of China's largest state-owned aeronautic companies, AVIC, according to its website.
Until now, this phenomenon has only been mentioned lip service because of its sensitivity. But given the importance it has taken, the British Ministry of Defense [MoD] has decided to put its foot in the dish in order to put an end to it.
Indeed, for at least three years, China has been trying to recruit former Western military pilots by offering them very attractive salaries. Including in France, as revealed by the Intelligence on Line site, specializing in intelligence-related matters, in 2019.
Thus, according to him, the Defense Intelligence and Security Directorate [DRSD], the department of the Ministry of the Armed Forces dedicated to counter-intelligence, was then worried about Beijing's interest in former pilots of Rafale, some of them having been approached by “Chinese companies, in different countries where these devices built by Dassault have been sold”.
They were then offered to “conduct training sessions” for the benefit of the People's Liberation Army [APL], which wanted to know the tactics and rules of engagement in force within the French air force. "Some have taken the plunge briefly," said Intelligence on Line.
Others too. So much so that the specialized site returned to this phenomenon last May 2022, stating that the PLA was training in "air warfare with the help of renegade Western pilots", who were recruited via the company Test Flying Academy of South Africa.
Since the United Kingdom is not the only one affected by this phenomenon, which has also accelerated “significantly” since the lifting of restrictions linked to the covid-19 pandemic, it remains to be seen whether the other Western countries – starting with France – will take similar measures.