CCP Hires Western Military Aviators To Prepare For War With Taiwan: Taiwanese Military Expert

The Five Eyes (FVEY) alliance announced steps earlier in June to prevent Western military aviators from training Beijing’s military and naval aviators, capabilities that military experts say are key for Beijing to be able to attack Taiwan.

A Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy J-11 fighter pilot performs an unsafe maneuver during an intercept of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft, which was lawfully conducting routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace, on Dec. 21, 2022, in a still from video. (Courtesy of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

On June 5, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), representing the FVEY (the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), issued a joint bulletin warning evolving the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) efforts to recruit current and retired Western service members to train its military.

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,” said NCSC Director Michael C. Casey.

Actions by the United States and its Western partners to counter this threat include commercial restrictions on the Test Flying Academy of South Africa (TFASA), Beijing China Aviation Technology Co. (BCAT), Stratos, and other PLA providers exploiting Western and NATO personnel, as well as legal and regulatory changes to prohibit former military members from engaging in post-service employment with China.

Tony Xia, a military expert and commentator, noted that pilots with real combat experience are rare in China.

“It takes at least five years to train a fighter pilot. In fact, the pilot is required to fly for the rest of his or her service life,” he told The Epoch Times.

He added that the main reason for the CCP to hire experienced aviators from Western militaries is to plagiarise Western training systems, methods, and experience.

“In the past few decades, China’s fourth-generation fighters have hardly experienced any real-world combat experience,” he said.

CCP Preparation to Attack Taiwan

Zhang Yanting, the former deputy commander of Taiwan’s Air Force and currently a professor at the Political Warfare College of Taiwan’s National Defense University, believes that these CCP actions are preparation for a real war in the Taiwan Strait.

Retired pilots bring combat experience, which the PLA lacks. They can pass on to the CCP military their valuable experience of the whole real-world combat scenario, threats, and how to give full play to their combat power, he told The Epoch Times.

Moreover, each of them has different expertise: some of them fly fighter planes, some fly anti-submarine warfare aircraft, and some fly carrier planes.

Taiwan's armed forces hold two days of routine drills to show combat readiness ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays at a military base in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on Jan. 11, 2023. (Annabelle Chih/Getty Images)

Qi Leyi, a senior media figure and military commentator in Taiwan, noted that the CCP values practical operational experience from recruited retired Western officers.

The people on the front line are especially needed. Apart from acquiring skills, they can also get some intelligence and information, he told The Epoch Times.

CCP’s History of Recruiting Western Military

The CCP’s recruitment of Western retired pilots has been known since 2022, including cases such as the TFASA in South Africa, which was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Commerce in June 2023.

While TFASA denied involvement in confidential military training and employing American and British citizens, Daniel Duggan, a former pilot for the U.S. Marine Corps and Australian citizen who would be extradited to the United States, was indeed a trainer for TFASA and trained Chinese pilots in the art of landing on aircraft carriers.

Mr. Duggan moved to Australia after more than 10 years of service in the U.S. military and founded a company called Top Gun Tasmania, which employs former U.S. and British military pilots to provide tourists with jets for joyriding.

Former U.S. military pilot Daniel Edmund Dugga is seen as a pilot in Tasmania, Australia, on Feb. 13, 2023. (AAP Image/Supplied by Duggan family)

Mr. Duggan, with an Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence issued by the United States and Australia, has flown the AV-8B Harrier, T2C Buckeye, and A4J Skyhawk. In May, he admitted to working with Chinese spy Su Bin, who stole U.S. military secrets but denied knowing he was a spy.

In the United Kingdom, it was exposed in 2022 that as many as 30 retired British pilots have been recruited by the Chinese military with high salaries (up to about $270,000 a year). The recruitment has been carried out through third parties, including a flying academy based in South Africa, and the pilots had served across the British military, not just in the Royal Air Force.

France is also targeted by the CCP, which actively seeks skilled French instructors to guide Chinese pilots in carrier landings and learn NATO air force strategies. Other than the United States and China, France is among the few nations with catapult-equipped aircraft carriers.

The CCP recruits retired Western carrier-based aircraft pilots to train its own carrier pilots and absorb the experience of carrier combat tactics from Western countries, Ou Si-Fu, who heads the Division of Chinese Politics, Military, and Warfighting Concepts at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research in Taiwan, told The Epoch Times.

Landing a fighter jet on a narrow carrier deck is a highly challenging task. The CCP is starting from scratch in terms of combat operations, necessitating training from Western nations, he said. Carrier combat strategies are national secrets that no country is willing to teach Beijing directly, prompting the regime to entice retired Western pilots with hefty salaries.

Mr. Xia said that in their pursuit of developing aircraft carriers, the CCP aims to realize its “Deep Blue Dream,” which is “a way to compete for regional and world hegemony.”

“For the CCP, the training of carrier pilots is basically blank. Western experience is of course very important for it,” he said. “The U.S. Navy, when observing the take-off and landing of Chinese carrier aircraft, exclaimed about their dangerous [amateurish] maneuvers.”

Mr. Ou believes that the CCP penetrates Taiwanese society with a similar approach, absorbing retired military personnel to steal Taiwan’s military secrets and enticing semiconductor professionals for advanced industrial secrets.

Taiwan and democratic Western nations must remain vigilant against these illegal measures by the CCP to steal defense military and advanced industrial secrets, he said.

Authored by Xin Ning and Cindy Li via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

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