K-8 JL-8 trainer china pakistan

K8 / JL8 Trainer Jet - PLAAF

The K-8 Karakorum is a joint venture between the China Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CNAMC) and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) to develop a basic jet trainer with light attack capabilities. Originally identified as the Nanchang L-8 or Hongdu JL-8, the plane is best known by its export name K-8 Karakorum.

Karakorum is the mountain range straddling the Chinese-Pakistani border. Although primarily a trainer, the K-8 can be used as a light attack aircraft with its single 23-mm gun and four underwing pylons carrying up to 500 lb (250 kg) each.

Full-scale development began in 1987 with original plans calling for dual production in China and Pakistan. The K-8 was also to include a significant number of American technologies such as a Garrett turbofan engine and avionics from Collins and Magnavox. However, US restrictions placed on China in 1989 nearly cancelled the project. Nonetheless, both countries decided to proceed after settling on a conventional straight-wing tandem-seat layout powered by a single engine.

Depite initial plans, all K-8 production was centralized in China after Pakistan decided against a separate assembly line. CNAMC is the prime contractor although PAC does produce the fin, tailplane, and other components accounting for about 25% of the airframe. Export customer Egypt has also license-built the design.

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K-8 JL-8 Trainer

Initial development efforts focused on the construction and testing of three flying prototypes and a static trials aircraft, all delivered between 1990 and 1992. A flight test program ensued and was completed during 1993. Work then began on a pre-production batch of six aircraft for each nation. Current Chinese procurement appears to be about 300, and Pakistan has ordered 75. Several export customers in Asia, Africa, and South America have also ordered the Karakorum.

Egypt's K-8E trainer jet

120th locally manufactured K-8E Karakorum training aircraft was handed over to the Egyptian Air Force (EAF) in a ceremony under the Sino-Egyptian co-production program for the K-8E. Chinese Aviation Technology Import-Export Cooperation (CATIC) and Egyptian Defense Ministry signed a contract in1999 to produce 80 aircraft of K-8E in first stage and another 40 in second stage to meet the modern training requirements of the Egyptian Air Force. Egyptian Air Force opted for the K-8E aircraft to replace their old Czech L-29 jet trainers.

Under this contract, Aircraft Factory of Egypt was to produce the K-8E training aircraft. More than 200 Chinese technicians were sent to Cairo for this project. The co-production of the K-8E in Egypt consists of three stages. In the first stage China supplied all the main parts of the aircraft for the assembly of a complete aircraft. In second stage share Egyptian contents was increased and by the end of the programme Egypt manufactured the major parts and independently assemble the planes.

First K-8E trainer aircraft was flight tested at 10:25 am on 05 June 2000 in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province. Aircraft Factory of Egypt began to assemble the aircraft in July 2000. Aircraft Factory of Egypt completed the first Sino-Egyptian contract for 80 K-8E aircraft on 11 December 2005, and was authorized to produce as much as 97.4% of the components. Egypt signed a contract with China to produce another 40 K-8E aircrafts in November, 2004.

Technical specs

The K-8 offers a state-of-art training platform for the pilots of the Pakistan Air Force. It is a milestone in the long history of close cooperation and technical collaboration between Pakistan and China. The $20 million K-8 advanced jet trainer has been jointly designed and produced by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), Kamra and China's Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Company (NAMC) and is manufactured at NAMC. Pakistan had earlier unilaterally developed a similar aircraft, but sought a partnership with China to further advance production and technology standards of that aircraft.

The K-8 is a tandem-seat advanced jet trainer (AJT) with a low-set, unswept wing which has been co-produced by Pakistan and China. It first flew in 1991 and is intended to completely replace the T-37s in service with the PAF by 2005. The total order for the PAF may reach upto 100 aircraft. Currently only 6 aircraft have been delivered. The K-8 can also be armed with air-to-air missiles for the airfield defence.

The first batch of 6 K-8s (with Collins EFTS-86 MFD and Allied Signal TFE-731-2A turbofan) were delivered to the PAF in January 1995 and these second batch K-8s are optimized for the air defence role with the Chinese PL-7 underwing Sidewinder AAMs and a gun pod (23mm) under the fuselage. So far the PLAAF has not placed any order for the K-8 yet, probably because they are still seeking an alternative (non-U.S.) source to supply the powerplant. It has been reported that a turbofan in the same class of the TFE-731-2A (WS-11) is currently under development by Zhuzhou Power Machinery factory and a prototype of this engine has been tested on a K-8. The latest news suggests that China has ordered 30 Progress AI-25TL turbofans from Ukraine last March. They will be installed on the domestic K-8A intended for PLAAF.

The K-8 project has been hampered by the US Government's refusal to sell more TFE-731-2A turbofans. So it is possible that both the PAF and the PLAAF may eventually end up with K-8s powered by indigenous (WS-11) or Ukrainian engines.

The K-8 first flew in January 1991, powered by TFE 731-2A turbofan. It is also equipped with a ROCKWELL Collins flight instrumentation system, with two displays in the front and two in the rear cockpit. PAC Kamra is co-producing the K-8 and at least 6 examples are currently flying with the PAF. The K-8 will eventually replace all T-37 aircraft in PAF service and some
75 aircraft will eventually be delivered. The aircraft apart from being used as a trainer, can also be used for: (i) supplementary low level air base defence with 2 sidewinders; (ii) tactical armed reconnaissance; (iii) and ground attack armed AOP with four 250 lb. bombs or rockets

K-8 JL-8 Trainer


This aircraft is designed to provide all basic flying training, plus parts of the primary and advanced training syllabi, with capability also for light air-to-ground close support.


K-8 is a two seat advanced jet trainer and light ground attack aircraft. It has a Collins EFIS-86 system in first 100 aircraft, incorporating CRT primary flight and navigation displays for each crew member plus dual display processing units and selector panels for tandem operations.

Basic Specifications

Primary Function: Advanced Jet Trainer and Wartime Light Attack Fighter.

Manufacturer: PAC/NAMC (Pakistan/China)

Powerplant: One Garrett TFE731-2A turbofan engine.

Thrust: 16.01 kN (3,600 lb. st)

Length: 34 feet 1.5 inches (10.40 metres) (38 feet or 11.6 meters with probe)

Height: 13 feet 9.7 inches (4.21 metres)

Maximum Takeoff Weight: 9,546 lbs. (4,330 kg)

Wingspan: 31 feet, 7.2 inches (9.63 meters)

Wing Area: 17.02 sq. metres

Max. Speed: 497 mph (800 km/h at sea level)

Ceiling: 43,600 feet (13,290 meters)

Range: 1214 miles (2250 km)

Armament: 2,080 lb. (945 kg) equivalent. One 23mm cannon under centre-fuselage, with self-computing optical gunsight in cockpit. 4 hardpoints - two external stores points under each wing - capable of carrying gun pods, rocket pods, bombs, missiles, auxiliary fuel tanks (inboard pair only), or a reconnaissance pod.

Unit Cost: US $20 million

Crew: Two in tandem.

PAF Inventory: 6

China has delivered its first six Hongdu K-8 jet trainers to Venezuela, which has expressed interest in acquiring more and also buying the company's more advanced L-15 model.

A delivery ceremony was held at an air base outside Barquisimeto city on 13 March, with President Hugo Chavez as guest of honour. China Aviation Industry Corporation, which makes the K-8, says the other 12 aircraft on order for the nation's air force will be delivered in July. Speaking during the delivery event, Chavez said Venezuela plans to buy as many as 40 K-8s, and is also considering buying L-15 advanced jet trainers and other equipment from China.


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