Angola’s first Hongdu K-8W Karakorum aircraft flies home

The National Air Force of Angola (FANA) has now taken delivery of six new Hongdu JL-8 (Nanchang JL-8), also known as the K-8W Karakorum. Another six are set to be delivered this year.

The K-8 Karakorum is a two-seat intermediate jet trainer and a light attack aircraft designed in the People’s Republic of China by China Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation. Its export variant, K-8 Karakorum is co-produced by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex the makers of the Mushshak basic trainer with Pakistan providing 25% of the funding.

A photograph published by China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) confirms the delivery. This example, 1-65 is one of the first six aircraft to be delivered.

The National Air Force of Angola likely placed orders for four K-8A Karakorum, with an option for four more in 2018. In March Last year, a photograph was published online showing a new K-8 Karakorum in National Air Force of Angola livery and Roundel. The photograph showed Luo Ronghuai, the President of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), inspecting Hongdu’s aviation facility.

FANA likely paid some USD 52 million to AVIC for the initial order, which includes spare parts, logistics, and instructor-/technician-training.

The FANA will most probably field the K-8 as a lead-in trainer for the recently acquired Su-30K/KN (former Indian Air Force) and its small existing fleet of Su-27s. But the type could also serve as a light attack aircraft as well as to complement its aging fleet of L-39Cs.

The National Air Force of Angola (FANA) has now taken delivery of six Hongdu K-8W Karakorums.
A Ghanaian Air Force K-8W Karakorum

The Karakorum-8 (K-8) is a single-engine, advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft designed and manufactured jointly by Hongdu Aviation Industry Corporation (HAIC) of China and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC).

It has max to weight of 4,468kg, max level speed 800km/h, max climb rate 30m/s, max range 2,140km and ceiling 13,600m.

In its combat form, it can be fitted with a 23 mm cannon pod on any of its five hard-points of which four are located under wing and one beneath the centreline fuselage section. It can carry 1,000 kg of payload. The aircraft is equipped with PL-5 and PL-7 air-to-air missiles (AAM), unguided bomb, BL755 cluster bombs weighing 200-250 kg, 57 mm unguided rocket pods and two fuel drop-tanks.

The K-8 has been ordered by several other African countries including Egypt (118), Ghana (four), Namibia (12), Sudan (12), Tanzania (six), Zambia (eight) and Zimbabwe (11).

Patrick Kenyette

Freelance journalist and Photographer, and regular African Military Blog contributor