Myanmar (formerly Burma) plans to purchase seven NAMC Karakorum-8 (K-8) twin-seat jet basic trainer and light ground-attack aircraft. It is unclear whether these include two aircraft delivered last October for trial or supplement them to form a half squadron ofnine. This is the first export order for the aircraft, which has been co-developed by China and Pakistan.
NAMC K-8 (photo : Pakdef)
Sources in Yangon (Rangoon) told Jane's Defence Weekly that Myanmar Air Force chief Maj Gen Kyaw Than visited Beijing earlier this month to finalise the deal, which will be financed by China. The package is worth an estimated $20 million, but the proposed delivery schedule is not known. Gen Kyaw Than met with Chinese Defence Minister Chi Haotian and Chinese Air Force Chief Lt Gen Liu Shanyao to seal the agreement, the sources added.
The K-8s are to replace six Super Galebs obtained several years ago from Yugoslavia which are no longer supportable. Pakistan has a 25% share in the K-8 programme. However, the aircraft is built by China's Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Company (NAMC).The first test flight was conducted in late 1990 and 12 aircraft had been delivered by the end of 1996, six each to China and Pakistan. Their combined requirement could eventually total several hundred machines.
Prototype and pre-production versions of the K-8 are powered by the Allied Signal TFE731-2A-2A turbofan engine, 40 of which were acquired by Beijing before Washington cut off further sales over technology transfer concerns. China has since been developing its own engine, a programme of particular significance since both Pakistan and Myanmar are under US embargo. It is not yet known whether Myanmar will have the aircraft fitted with an optional armaments package.