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TFASA defends recruitment of former RAF pilots for Chinese training programme

A file photo of PLAAF Sukhoi Su-30MKK 'Flanker' combat aircraft, a type that Chinese pilots may fly and fight following flight instructions from former RAF officers. (PLAAF)

The South Africa-based academy at the centre of recruiting former UK Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots to train their Chinese counterparts has defended its actions, saying the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was fully aware of the nature of the company's business.

The statement was released by the Test Flying Academy of South Africa (TFASA) following a series of reports in the UK national press that former front-line RAF combat pilots were found to be training their counterparts from the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) in China.

“The TFASA is aware of recent media reports that include reference to the company and its activities. Many of the accusations and allegations levelled at it were factually incorrect and misleading,” it said.

In the original 18 October story that was seemingly placed in the UK media by the MoD, it was reported that the ministry had warned 30 former RAF pilots to cease their involvement in the TFASA-facilitated PLAAF training programme immediately. The reports noted, however, that the Official Secrets Act had not been broken, and so the UK government could only ‘strongly suggest' that the pilots stop their work in China.

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