Former naval pilot who runs ‘Top Gun Tasmania’ flying company is arrested by federal police in Australia for collaborating with China – and will be extradited to America
- Daniel Duggan flew Harrier jets for the US Marines over the Persian Gulf
- He appeared in an Australian court on Friday, according to Reuters
- An aviation source said he was wanted by the FBI for his work in China
A former US Harrier jet pilot and flight instructor who did business in China was arrested in Australia and at risk of extradition to the United States, Australian court documents and company records show.
Australian Federal Police arrested 54-year-old Daniel Edmund Duggan Friday in the rural New South Wales town of Orange.
He appeared there in court that same day.
Reaching the rank of major, Duggan flew Harrier jump jets in the US Marines and was an aerial combat instructor before leaving the armed forces and moving to Australia, where he founded a company offering “adventure flights” in fast jets according to the website of Top Gun Australia.
His LinkedIn profile lists him as the general manager of AVIBIZ Limited, “a comprehensive aviation consultancy with a focus on China’s fast-growing and dynamic aviation industry.”
The arrest comes amid growing concerns about military personnel selling their services to foreign rivals.
The United Kingdom government has raised the alarm that 30 former Royal Air Force pilots may have gone to China to train China’s People’s Liberation Army.
Daniel Duggan, a former Marine Harrier pilot, has been arrested in Australia, according to Reuters, and is wanted by the FBI for his work in China, according to sources.
Duggan flew missions from USS Boxer (pictured here departing from San Diego, California) in the Persian Gulf during Operation Southern Watch, according to his online biography
Duggan was denied bail during Friday’s hearing, two sources said, and his lawyer appeared via videoconference.
Duggan is a former US citizen and federal police acted on a US request for his arrest ahead of the likely formal extradition proceedings, said one of the police sources, who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Duggan’s next hearing will be in Sydney in November to consider any bail applications. Details of the US arrest warrant and charges against him have been sealed.
“On October 21, 2022, one person was arrested at the request of the United States of America for their provisional arrest,” a spokesman for the federal attorney general said in a written statement to Reuters.
“As the case is under court, it is inappropriate to comment further.”
The arrest came the same week that Britain warned dozens of former military pilots that they would face prosecution if they did not stop working in China. Australia is also investigating reports that some of its former fighter pilots have been approached to work in China.
An aviation source told Reuters that the FBI was looking for Duggan because of his work in China. His attorney, Dennis Miralis of Nyman, Gibson and Miralis, said he was unable to comment.
Duggan moved to Australia after a decade in the US military and started a company called Top Gun Tasmania, hiring former US and British military pilots to offer tourists joyrides in fighter jets, company records and aviation sources confirmed.
Duggan also flew ex-military planes at Australian air shows, three pilots told Reuters.
The Top Gun Tasmania website states that Duggan flew Harrier jump jets with the US Marines and was an air combat instructor.
His service included flying missions for Operation Southern Watch in the Persian Gulf from Kuwait and the USS Boxer, after the Gulf War.
Those missions include flying from British airline HMS Invincible.
He moved to Beijing in 2014 and soon after sold Top Gun Tasmania, deposits in Australia for the company show.
Duggan’s LinkedIn profile states that he has been working in Qingdao, China since 2017 as General Manager of AVIBIZ Limited, described as ‘a comprehensive aviation consultancy with a focus on China’s fast-growing and dynamic aviation industry’.
Company records from Hong Kong show that AVIBIZ Limited was registered there in 2017 by Australian passport holder Daniel Edmund Duggan and disbanded in 2020.
Duggan was not immediately available for comment.
Under Australia’s extradition treaty with the United States, the US government has 60 days to submit an extradition request. The treaty allows the extradition of Australian citizens.