Former British fighter pilots are training the Chinese to shoot down Western aircraft, officials warned last night.
Up to 30 pilots have recently moved to China after securing £250,000-a-year contracts to teach Western flying procedures, it was revealed.
Due to legal loopholes, there is nothing the Armed Forces can do to prevent the Beijing brain drain – a potential threat to national security in which Chinese pilots could be given a lethal advantage in any future conflict.
Many more top Royal Air Force pilots have been approached by intermediaries acting on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army but declined the offers, sources said.
Western officials said last night Britain was discussing with allies how to respond to the issue as they are similarly affected.
The Daily Mail has been told fast-jet pilots from Australia and Canada have also been lured to China on huge contracts.
China wants to be the world’s most dominant military power by 2049. Its armed forces are expanding rapidly due to huge investment in aircraft carriers, stealth jets and weaponry.
The shocking recruitment programme will be confirmed today in a rare Ministry of Defence ‘threat alert’. It comes as the UK redesignates China from ‘systemic competitor’ status to a ‘threat’ to British interests.