October 28, 2014: Strategy Page
In September Bangladesh received the first four of twelve Chinese K-8W jet trainers. These are upgraded versions of the basic PL-8 trainer. The K-8W has better electronics and is equipped for ground attack missions. The K-8 uses Ukrainian Motor Sich AI-25TLK (3,300 pounds of thrust) jet engines, to power the 4.3 ton, two seat aircraft. Originally, China was going to use 3,600 pound thrust American engines, but after the 1989 Chinese crackdown on pro-democracy groups, the United States cut off the supply of engines. This encouraged China to design and build 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 AI-25TLK instead.
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. Venezuela, Egypt and Pakistan also use the K-8. The aircraft sell for $4-5 million each