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‘Enough evidence’ found to review laws on RAAF training Chinese

written by Adam Thorn | November 9, 2022

Two RAAF F-35s over the Northern Territory during Exercise Diamond Storm 2022 (Defence, LAC Samuel Miller)

Defence Minister Richard Marles has revealed “enough evidence” has emerged into claims that ex-RAAF personnel are training Chinese pilots to warrant a review of current laws.

However, Marles crucially refused to tell reporters whether the involvement of any Australians had been confirmed.

It follows reports last month that China had been reaching out to former UK and Australian pilots. It was shortly followed by local police arresting a former US Marine Corps pilot and flight instructor at the request of US authorities for his work in China.

“The information provided to me so far presents enough evidence to warrant the need for a detailed examination into the adequacy of current Defence policies and procedures addressing this matter,” Minister Marles said in a statement.

He added former personnel had an “enduring obligation” to protect national secrets, and changes to the law would be made if “weaknesses” were found.


“I want to make this point. For those who do come into possession of our nation’s secrets, either through service in the Australian Defence Force or, indeed, service in any other part of the Commonwealth, there is an enduring obligation to maintain those secrets for as long as they are secrets, which persists well after their engagement with the Commonwealth, and to breach that obligation is a very serious crime.

“And that is clear and unambiguous.”

Currently, ex-service personnel can only work with overseas militaries with permission from Australia.

Last month, Australian Aviation reported that Defence would launch an investigation into UK newspaper claims that ex-air force pilots were training the Chinese armed forces in aircraft such as Typhoons, Jaguars, Harriers, and Tornados.

It followed The Times reporting that former RAF personnel were being paid $430,000 a year to help China “develop its tactics and technological expertise”.

The Australian then subsequently revealed that RAAF veterans were part of the western cohort of 30 who were approached through a South African flight school acting as an intermediary.

Defence Minister Richard Marles said then he would be “shocked and disturbed” if pilots were being “lured by a paycheck from a foreign state above serving their own country”.

Finally, weeks later, Australian police arrested a former US Marine Corps pilot.

Daniel Edmund Duggan, 54, was arrested on 21 October in Orange, NSW and appeared in court on the same day, according to court records, his lawyer, and two police sources. He later said he would “vigorously” fight his extradition.

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Comments (2)

  • chris


    This is truly traitorous conduct if true, but at the same time it just demonstrates how the Communist Party and more specifically the PLA rely on stealing. Without stealing and attempting to copy, they have nothing!

  • Adrian P


    In the 1970s anyone who went to countries like the USSR and China to train military pilots (or vice versa pilots from USSR and China training western pilots) would be considered to be defectors (a person who has abandoned their country or cause in favour of an opposing one.) The consequences would mean that it would be a one way trip as to return home would mean a significant jail term.
    Certainly the Official Secrets Act in the UK is a simple act in that any knowledge gained in a person’s service is covered by it, irrespective of security classification of that knowledge. People are required to sign a copy of the act on entry to service and again on leaving service. The reason for example RAF personnel can join the RAAF unencumbered is that the the UK authorities CHOOSE not to prosecute as Australia is considered a friendly power.
    Even among allies there are limits, for example the F35 source code is not included in the purchase and training by allies, which would mean an American passing on the source code to an Australian would be in serious trouble.
    The thing is the current generation of personnel have grown up with social media and lost the ability to differentiate between public and private. Go on You Tube and social media and you will find multiple breaches of the Official Secrets Act.

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