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The United States and other members of the “Five Eyes,” an intelligence alliance of the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, have warned that the Chinese government is actively recruiting Western military pilots and personnel.

On Wednesday, the Five Eyes issued a public bulletin alerting to China’s efforts to circumvent measures designed to stop this recruitment. In a statement, NCSC Director Michael Casey said, “To overcome their shortcomings, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been aggressively recruiting Western military talent to train their aviators, using private firms around the globe that conceal their PLA ties and offer recruits exorbitant salaries. Recent actions by Western governments have impacted these operations, but PLA recruitment efforts continue to evolve in response. Today’s joint bulletin by FVEY partners seeks to highlight this persistent threat and deter any current or former Western service members from actions that put their military colleagues at risk and erode our national security.”


According to the bulletin, the PLA is using private companies in South Africa and China to hire former Western military personnel, including fighter pilots and flight engineers, to train its Air Force and Navy. These recruits are sought for their expertise, which the PLA aims to use to enhance its military air operations and gain insight into Western tactics. The notice emphasized that this recruitment poses a persistent and adaptive threat to US and allied security.

The bulletin also warned that personnel are often targeted through headhunting emails or personal connections, with offers of high salaries and flattery. The Five Eyes agencies urged individuals to be vigilant and report any recruitment attempts to the FBI or military investigators. A US official from the National Counterintelligence and Security Center noted that China has been adapting its strategies to counteract efforts to stop these recruitments.

This development comes as a former US Marine pilot, Daniel Duggan, is fighting extradition from Australia on US charges of training Chinese military pilots through a South African flight school. Duggan, an Australian citizen, faces charges including money laundering and breaking arms control laws, which he denies.


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