Procurement: China and the Jet Trainer Market


June 2, 2006: Pakistan has received its second six Chinese K-8 jet trainer. Actually, the aircraft is a joint Pakistan-China development project. But to date, all of them have been produced in China. Pakistan eventually wants to replace its aging T-38 trainers with 75 or more K-8s, but at $20 million each, it will take a while to find the money. Pakistan received its first six K-8s a decade ago. The six new ones are also equipped to carry two air-to-air heat seeking missiles. Egypt builds K-8s under license, and China has exported K-8s to several other countries (often at bargain prices).

The K-8 (also called JL-8) is a 4.3 ton, two seat, jet trainer. It uses a American, Chinese or Ukrainian engines. Originally, China was going to just use a 3600 pound thrust American engines. But after the 1989 Chinese crackdown on pro-democracy forces, the United States cut off the supply of engines. This encouraged China to design a similar engine (the WS-11). But China has had a hard time mastering the precise technologies and manufacturing techniques needed to build jet engines. So it has been buying the Ukrainian AI-25TLK, while it works to perfect its own engine design

The K8 has a cruising speed of 800 kilometers an hour, endurance of four hours and five hard points. It can carry a 23mm cannon in the hard point under the fuselage, and half a ton of bombs, rockets or missiles, from the four hard points on the wings. This gives the aircraft combat capability, at least against a foe with few anti-aircraft weapons. Electronics on the JL-8 are minimal, as it's basically a two seat trainer, to prepare fighter pilots before they climb into anything from a MiG-21 to an F-16.




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