Germany Investigating Ex-Military Pilots Allegedly Training Chinese


Germany officials say they will investigate published reports that former military pilots are training Chinese pilots and may even be involved in training for an attack on Taiwan. Der Spiegel and German public broadcaster ZDF ran a story this week saying the ex-German officers have been teaching Chinese pilots for years and one worked for a company owned by an exposed Chinese spy. The pilots are allegedly paid through a shell company in Seychelles.

“It’s time for this naivety and German naivety to end,” Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmerman told Der Spiegel. “The fact that we are indirectly helping China to upgrade its own air force is unacceptable.” Like all countries, Germany has laws dictating the kind of work those with sensitive military jobs can do on the side or after they retire but she suggested they might need legislation limiting such activity to NATO allies and “strategic partners.”

Several countries, including the U.S. and Canada, are investigating the activities of ex-military pilots in China and all are saying there will be major consequences for those who get caught passing along their training and experience to Chinese pilots. “There are clear rules in the Soldiers’ Act about what a soldier may and may not do after the end of their service period and what they must report,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said. “There are also clear rules about confidentiality obligations and much more.” Former U.S. Marine pilot Daniel Duggan is in custody in Australia as he fights extradition to the U.S. over his alleged training of Chinese pilots. Duggan is now an Australian citizen.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Simple logic would tell these former military people that this is wrong. Whatever happened to “Patriotism”? Can’t they realize they are selling out their nations for a few measly bucks.

  2. It’s not as straightforward as it may seem. Money alone doesn’t always serve as the sole motivator. Based on my experience, some veterans encounter difficulties when reintegrating into civilian life. These challenges include finding employment and coping with physical and psychological issues stemming from their military service. Certain veterans struggle with the transition back to civilian life, as the presence of military grade adrenaline can obscure reality.

      • “All the stories have been told
        Of kings and days of old
        But there’s no England now”

        One can argue that Western governments themselves are now contrary to their own independence and their cultures.

    • Recently retired military officer here. Thanks so much for stereotyping us as freaks. Or am I misunderstanding you due to all the adrenaline that’s poisoned me and is causing me difficulties transitioning to civilian life? Geez.

  3. I am sure these pilots are being paid dearly for their services. Enough money will make people rationalize things they know are wrong as being right.

  4. When I think about what Arab countries pay retired Americans fighter pilots for training, it becomes easy to see how a gazillion bucks would lure GAF pilots to do this.

  5. They way current political/social issues are polarizing society to extremes, it would seem a small step to act in an anti-establishment manner. Add a few tax-free bucks and you have a very ‘volatile’ mix…