Friday, June 18, 2010

50 K-8 trainers (trainers, not fighter jets) to Burma.

Burma Buys 50 Fighter Jets From China
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Burmese air force continues to expand with the recent procurement of 50 K-8 jet trainer aircraft from China, according to sources within the air force in Meikhtila.

“Parts of the K-8 aircraft were transported by cargo ship from China and are being assembled at the Aircraft Production and Maintenance Base in Meikhtila,” said one of the sources.

K-8 Karakorum jet trainers from Sri Lanka air force. (
The purchase of the 50 aircraft comes after Burma’s air force chief Lt-Gen Myat Hein traveled to China in November to negotiate an upgrade to the fleet of Chinese-made military aircraft already owned by Burma.

“There are two reasons to purchase K-8 trainers,” said the source. “Either for training exercises or for counter-insurgency.”

The K-8 jet trainer, sometimes called the K-8 Karakorum or the Hongdu JL-8, is a joint venture between China and Pakistan, and is fitted with air-to-air missiles and rockets.

In 1998-9, the Burmese air force bought 12 K-8 jet trainers from China, which are now stationed at Taungoo Air Base in Pegu Division.

In addition to purchasing Chinese-made fighters and trainer aircraft, Naypyidaw signed a contract in late 2009 to buy 20 MiG-29 jet fighters from Russia at a cost of nearly US $570 million.

“The parts of the MiG-29 jet fighters will arrive in July and September by cargo ship and by plane,” said an officer close to Col. Tun Aung, a key figure in the Burmese air force. He said that the 20 Russian aircraft will be assembled in Meikhtila.

Meanwhile, Burma's main air base for maintenance, the Aircraft Production and Maintenance Air Base (APMAB) in Panchangone in Mingaladon Township has been relocated to Nyaunggone, close to the regime's Flying Training Base in Shante in Meikhtila Township, according to a source from the air base.

“The APMAB got the order from Naypyidaw in January to relocate to the new location,” he said, but said he did not know why the relocation took place.

Military sources from Rangoon said that Burmese ruling military council upgraded the air force’s facilities and expanded airfields, as well as two air force bases in Bassein and Homemalin in 2006, to fulfill operational capabilities.

Burma has brought 280 aircraft from China, Russia, Yugoslavia and Poland, including trainers and fighters, since the military took power in 1988.

The Burmese air force was founded in 1947 before Burmese independence. Its main objective has since been counter campaigns against the Communist Party of Burma and several ethnic armies.

Burma has 10 air force headquarters: Bassein Air Base in Irrawaddy Division; Mingaladon Air Base in Rangoon Division; Myitkyina Air Base in Kachin State; Myike Air Base in Tenasserim Division; Namsang Air Base in Shan State; Taungoo Air Base in Pegu Division; Meikhtila (Shante) Flying Training Base; Meikthila Grounding Training Base in Mandalay Division; Magwe Air Base in Magwe Division; and Homemalin Air Base in Sagaing Division.
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Steven said...

A lot of countries seem to be purchasing the JL-8 nowadays not just for its training capabilities but also its counter-insurgency capabilities. If I were in Hongdu I'd be trying to find ways to increase the aircraft's payload. There are very few modern COIN aircrafts with comparable performance to the JL-8 but in terms of its payload though, it is a tad on the light side.

duskylim said...

I remember reading an article on the Sri Lankan airforce in Airforces Monthly magazine.

Of the original 6 purchased, it seems 3 were destroyed in a daring daylight attack by the now-defunct Tamil Tigers.

Nonetheless those remaining 3 were able to keep up the Sri Lankan's airforces training schedule despite being used 6 days a week with maintenance on Sundays.

I believe that is an excellent testament to the planes ruggedness and reliability, characteristics which undoubtedly endears it to its users.

Steven is correct in suggesting the need for a better payload.

Should this be done as a minor upgrade to existing model or (in my opinion) the design of a wholly new and dedicated strike version?

Steven said...

Well the general route most trainers or civilian aircraft is a new engine, something more powerful to try to compensate for the increased load from additional weapons pylons. Currently IIRC the JL-8 has a payload of about 1000 kg (not including a gun pod), contemporary COIN aircraft such as the Turboprop Super Tucano has a payload of 1,500 kg and at least matching that should be a reasonable goal to meet. Perhaps some additional electronics would be required but no radar would really be necessary for an aircraft in such a role.

btl25 said...

Maybe Hongdu should try talking with the makers of the Lotarev DV-2

The Lotarev DV-2, which has a maximum thrust of 24.5 kn, was developed from the Ivchenko AI-25 (aka as WS-11 with maximum thrust of only 16.9 kn), so maybe the Chinese can acquire a licence to build these DV-2's, maybe as WS-11A or something.