A Chinese aircraft manufacturer has produced an attack version of the L-15 jet trainer. Normally, the L-15 just carries a trainee pilot and an instructor. But the attack version has a pilot and a weapons systems officer. The L-15 is a 9.5 ton aircraft with a max speed of 1,000 kilometers an hour and a combat radius of 550 kilometers. Since it first flew four years ago, the L-15 has been offered to the Chinese armed forces and foreign customers, without much success.
The problem is the K-8, which is a smaller, cheaper Chinese jet trainer. The K-8 is a 4.3 ton, two seat aircraft. The trainee and instructor are replaced by a pilot and observer on combat missions. Max speed is 800 kilometers an hour. The K-8 entered service in 1994, and over 500 have been built. The aircraft can be fitted with a 23mm cannon, and carry nearly a ton of missiles and bombs. Egypt and Pakistan also use the K-8. The aircraft sells for $4-5 million each. The L-15 sells for more than twice as much, but carries about the same amount of weapons. The L-15 is touted as a more suitable trainer for pilots headed for high performance (like the Su-30, F-16 or J-10) aircraft. But so far, air forces have found it more economical to buy the K-8.