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Ex-Marine Pilot Allegedly Tried to Source T-2 Carrier Trainer Jet for China

D. Miller/Wikimedia Commons
D. Miller/Wikimedia Commons

The former U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier II jump jet pilot who was arrested in Australia earlier this year, amid accusations that he’d been working in China, had allegedly been helping train Chinese naval aviators to operate from aircraft carriers. An indictment from U.S. prosecutors also says that the Marine pilot, Daniel Edmund Duggan, was involved in training Chinese aviators in South Africa and that this program also involved potentially illegal procurement of at least one T-2 Buckeye naval jet trainer capable of carrier deck takeoff and landings.

The new allegations regarding Daniel Edmund Duggan, a former Marine Corps senior tactical instructor, are included in an indictment from U.S. prosecutors that dates back to 2017, but which has only now been unsealed by a federal court in the District of Columbia. The allegations claim that Duggan was specifically engaged in helping the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) develop its fast-growing carrier aviation branch. Duggan is currently detained in Australia, where he was arrested by the Australian Federal Police in October, reportedly at the request of the FBI.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, U.S. prosecutors allege that Duggan “breached U.S. arms-control laws and was involved in a conspiracy.” The same publication approached Duggan’s lawyer and the U.S. Justice Department, but neither has so far provided any comments. Duggan’s lawyer previously stated that the former Marine pilot denied breaking any laws in the United States or elsewhere.

The indictment states that Duggan was involved in a training program for PLAN naval aviators that would be carried out in China, South Africa, and other undisclosed locations. The training is said to have been centered upon carrier approach and landing, a vital and complex skill set required for operating from flattops of the kind that China is now operating and building.

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