September 24, 2014:
Venezuela has purchased 24 Chinese JL-15 jet trainers for use as ground attack and reconnaissance as well as for training pilots. The two-seat 9.5 ton, twin engine JL-15 can achieve supersonic speeds and has the kind of high-tech cockpit found in modern fighters. The JL-15 was designed to be produced in several versions, all of them two seat aircraft. The different versions are modified slightly to equip the aircraft for various types of pilot training (advanced trainer or initial fighter trainer) as well as combat tasks. The main use of the JL-15 is preparing new pilots for high end aircraft like the 29 F-5s, 21 F-16s or 24 Su-30s Venezuela has. The JL-15 is equipped with AI-222 jet engines made by the Ukrainian firm Motor Sich which also supplies AI-25 engines for the older 4.3 ton JL-8 trainer. China has not bought many JL-15s itself, having decided on the cheaper JL-9. This aircraft is less expensive because it is based on the MiG-21 fighter design or, rather, the Chinese clone the J-7. So far Venezuela appears to be the largest customer for the JL-15, which first flew in 2006.